Volleyball: Port A still perfect

With the 2011 North Tier League volleyball season down to its final days and the District 9 championships fast approaching, Port Allegany notched another pair of straight-set victories to remain unbeaten in non-tournament play heading into Thursday night’s rematch at once-beaten Coudersport.

Last Thursday, the Gators (14-0, 13-0 NTL) downed Cameron County 25-11, 25-15, 25-15 to sweep the season series against the Red Raiders on Senior Night at Port High.

“Great team effort,” coach Sharon Daniels wrote in an email to the Reporter Argus. “The seniors had a productive evening as did the underclassmen. Jenny Shelley (six service points, two aces, 35 assists, six kills, two blocks) did an excellent job of spreading out the offense which is evidenced in our kill statistics. Jenny, Rachel Taylor (10 service points, 11 kills, seven blocks) and Becca Culver (10 kills, three blocks) played very aggressive at the net on defense. Cameron County is a much improved team since the first time we saw them and provided us with good competition.”

On Saturday, Port traveled to the Elk County Catholic Tournament, placing second in pool play and finishing third overall after falling to Johnsonburg 23-25, 29-27, 15-6 in the semifinals. Unbeaten West Branch, the top seed in the upcoming District 6 playoffs, defeated the Ramettes to win their fourth straight tourney title.

Taylor (15 kills, 8.5 blocks against Johnsonburg) and Culver (six kills, five blocks) continued to pace the Gator attack, with Shelley (nine service points, 25 assists, three kills, four blocks) setting them up and Becky Andrus (28 digs) leading the defense.

“Although we lost in the semis, I thought it was a positive learning experience for everyone,” Daniels wrote. “Those who have played steady all year (Jenny Shelley, Rachel Taylor, Becca Culver, Ashley Woodruff, Becca Lathrop) continued to do so. Becca Lathrop was given a different assignment and stepped up her play. Freshman Brooke Roys played a very composed right side in the second set against Northern Potter and continued in that position for the remainder of the tournament. Becky Andrus played a solid 6 all day.”

Tuesday night added another sweep to Port High’s glittering record, this one against visiting Oswayo Valley by a 25-9, 25-17, 25-8 score. The Green Wave kept it close in the second game, actually leading 11-9 before going ahead to stay on a long service run by Andrus (12 points, 27 digs), who also closed out the match with a seven-point run.

“The second set saw us get a bit complacent,” Daniels said. “But to OV’s credit, they played scrappy defense and made us work for every point.”

Once again, middle hitters Taylor (six points, 11 kills, 5.5 blocks) and Culver (10 kills) paced the Gator offense.

“They were actually picking up Rachel; she was swinging hard, but they were picking it up,” Daniels said. “Because Becca’s swing is just a little bit slower – just a hair, just enough that it’s an off hit – it works out.

“Rachel, Jenny (10 points, 30 assists, three kills, two blocks) and Brooke were aggressive at the net on defense. Racheal Causer did an excellent job of taking care of the ball on defense tonight, and Taylor Causer (13 points) served effectively all three sets.”

Port has a chance to complete a spotless regular-season record on Thursday night at Coudersport, where a win would clinch the NTL title. After that, it’s on to next week’s District 9 playoffs, with the first round on Nov. 1, quarterfinals Nov. 3, and the “final four” championship slated for Nov. 5 in St. Marys.

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