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Crowd offers big support for 15-year-old volleyball player with cancer

October 17, 2017
By JUSTIN A. LEVINE - Sports Writer ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - The iconic blue and gold of the Lake Placid Blue Bombers was transformed into a sea of purple on Monday night, as players, coaches and spectators of two teams honored a local high school sophomore who was recently diagnosed with cancer.

The Blue Bombers fell to the visiting Peru Indians 3-1 in a home volleyball match, but players from both teams sported ribbons throughout the tight, back and forth games.

Sophomore Sara McKillip, who is 15 and in her first full season on Lake Placid's varsity team, was recently diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Her father, Dave, said in a speech before the match that her prognosis was good, and the Blue Bombers seemed to play with intensity, despite the final outcome of the match.

Article Photos

Sara McKillip, right, and her sister Kaleigh McKillip, hug their father Dave before Monday night’s home volleyball match against Peru. Sara McKillip, a 15-year-old sophomore and member of the Blue Bombers volleyball team was recently diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and was honored with a sea of purple shirts and ribbons worn by players and spectators. Pictured at back is Lake?Placid coach Donna Moody hugging Sara McKillip’s mother. (News photo — Justin A. Levine)

Junior Barrett Smith, who earned five points, three aces and two digs on the night, led the way for Lake Placid early on, serving up five straight points, several of which were unanswerable by the visiting Indians. Peru took control of the ball, but junior Rose Burns (one point, one ace) stopped the Indians cold with a monster smash to the back of the court. Peru captured the first game while Lake Placid showed it could hang with the 9-3 Indians, but couldn't quite come up with the finishing touch, dropping the game 25-16.

The second game was tighter, as the teams traded leads. Peru started to run away with it until senior captain Kaleigh McKillip stepped to the line and brought the Bombers within four on her serves. The elder McKillip ended the night with 12 points, three aces, three kills and two digs.

After Peru scored a few more points to maintain the lead, captain Graci Daby (seven points, three aces, eight kills, 12 assists and two digs) led on the serve to tie the game up at 18 before sending one over the end line. Peru then recaptured the lead and ended the second game of the night on top 25-22.

Lake Placid began to really shine during the third game, jumping to an early lead and maintaining it through a combination of solid serving, hard drives and subtle tips over the net. The Bombers took it to 22-14 before losing the serve.

Peru then rallied from a 23-18 deficit to come within one at 23-22, but sent it long before Lake Placid put the game away 25-22.

The first points of the final game were earned by the Blue Bombers, but the Indians quickly rebounded and went up 8-6. Lake Placid's Olivia Sawyer (six points, two aces, five kills and three digs) showed plenty of hustle on defense, making a few diving saves to keep play alive.

Blue Bomber captain Laurel Miller (four points, two aces, six kills, nine assists and one dig) set up Daby for a huge spike to bring Lake Placid within one at 11-10, but Peru started to pull away and were soon up 17-12.

Sara McKillip (two digs) made her second appearance of the night late in the fourth game to rousing cheers from the packed house, but Lake Placid couldn't catch the Indians, who put the match away with a 25-19 win.

Sara McKillip said she was honored to be on everyone's minds.

"It was crazy tonight, it was so amazing," she said. "I love everyone who came, it made me feel so nice. I don't think I was expecting as many people. It was a little overwhelming but I'm so thankful to everyone who came. It honestly made me feel so nice and made my day.

"I think we did really well as a team. Peru is such an amazing team, so it felt good to take a game from them. We played with our hearts. We put it out there tonight."

Peru coach Mary Anne Lake said she was happy with the win, but that the emotional side of the evening was hard to ignore as well.

"I think overall we played well, (but) I think the emotion of the night - my girls got caught up in that," Lake said. "They were really excited when she (Sara) got on the court and I could see that whenever she would come on there would be an emotional change and my girls were really happy to see her out there.

"It was back and forth and a real up and down night for my girls. I think that sometimes the emotion got the better of them and they got caught up in that as opposed to playing the game.

"But overall I'm proud of my team."

Lake Placid coach Donna Moody was happy with her team's performance as well.

"I thought they played really well," Moody said. "Last Thursday when we played Saranac Lake we all struggled, and they left that match being very frustrated. This was a whole different team tonight. They played well together, they stayed positive with themselves.

"Peru is a good team, and they'll keep coming at you and coming at you, and they weathered the storm for the most part and they didn't give up. Even though we didn't win the match, I'm happy with the way they played."

The Blue Bombers play on Thursday at Northern Adirondack with a 6 p.m. start time.

Peru 3, Lake Placid 1

25-16, 25-22, 22-25, 25-19

Peru - Sears 5 points, 1 ace, 1 dig. Rose 2 kills, 1 dig. Bousquet 16 points, 3 aces, 28 assists, 11 digs. Rodriguez 9 points, 3 aces, 1 kill, 9 digs. Hayes 1 point, 1 kill. Prescott 2 points, 1 ace, 2 digs. Martin 15 points, 3 aces, 13 kills, 12 digs. Timmons 1 dig. Clary 2 kills, 27 digs. McKee 3 points, 1 ace, 5 kills, 3 digs, 1 block. Germain 2 points, 1 ace, 4 kills, 2 digs, 2 blocks.

Lake Placid - Miller 4 points, 2 aces, 6 kills, 7 assists, 1 dig. K. McKillip 12 points, 3 aces, 3 kills, 2 digs. Smith 5 points, 3 aces, 4 digs. Daby 7 points, 3 aces, 8 kills, 12 assists, 2 digs. Sawyer 6 points, 2 aces, 5 kills, 3 digs. Hathaway 3 points, 1 kill, 1 dig. Zhang 1 kill, 1 dig. S. McKillip 2 digs. Burns 1 point, 1 ace.



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