Solid start for LP volleyball

LAKE PLACID — When Sandy Huber took over as the coach of Lake Placid’s varsity volleyball team in the fall of 2018, she inherited a young group of girls who were replacing players from a high school program that captured sectional titles during four of the five years leading up to that season.

Huber’s goal back then was get the young players experience competing at the varsity level in hopes they would be able to win a postseason championship before graduating from high school.

Five players who were sophomores on the team during Huber’s first varsity year stuck together and had high hopes of bringing a sectional crown back to Lake Placid last fall. They never got that chance when the season was canceled due of the coronavirus pandemic. But now, the seniors and the rest of the squad are making the most out of the current shortened Fall II season that includes eight matches.

After dropping their season-opener, the Blue Bombers won two straight to improve to 2-1, with their most recent victory a 3-1 triumph on Monday over their Class D nemesis — the Northern Adirondack Bobcats — who knocked off Lake Placid when they last met up in the November 2019 Class D final.

Four third-year varsity seniors — Grace Crawford, Izzy Armstrong, Karis Hudson and Dylan Bashaw were on the floor for Tuesday’s win, and a fifth senior, Evelynn Sharpe, is expected to be back in the lineup this week.

Lake Placid topped NAC by scores of 25-14, 15-25, 25-12 and 25-12.

“Even though there are no sectionals, it was a pretty big deal,” Huber said. “They beat us last time, it was for the championship, and I think there was still a little sting left from that. Our girls are feeling a whole lot better.

“This group of seniors has been working hard for years,” Huber continued. “This could have been the year. At this point, we’re just trying to keep it light and have fun. We’re all happy we even have a season.”

The Blue Bombers lost a three-set match to Peru to start the season on a night without Grace Crawford in the lineup. Crawford came back with a vengeance to lead Lake Placid to its first win, a five-set battle against Northeastern Clinton on Friday, April 16.

Crawford did it all in the Blue Bombers 25-16, 23-25, 25-21, 16-25, 25-14 triumph, finishing with 22 points, 14 aces, 8 kills, 17 digs, 1 block and 1 assist. She also kept it up against the Bobcats, leading the team again with 17 points and 9 aces.

Huber said Grace Crawford has been a team leader since her sophomore season, and her other experienced seniors are stepping up in a big way, tooo.

“That first match, with kids coming and going, we really didn’t get to practice all together,” Huber said. “I’m really happy with our start. Our strengths have been different in every match. The first match it was our defense. Our second match, our offense and hitting was on. Against NAC, it was our serving. Grace, Dylan and Izzy were serving tons of aces.”

Although experienced seniors have been paving the way, first-year varsity Blue Bombers Aubrey Hayes and Julia Crawford have also been impact players. Hayes, a junior, has stepped into the team’s setter position with Sharpe not yet in the lineup, and Julia Crawford, who is Grace’s younger sister, has been a force at the net, registering 19 kills in Lake Placid’s pair of victories.

In addition to the seven team members already mentioned, the rest of the Blue Bombers roster features seniors Marley Levenson and Samantha Clark, junior Melanie Megliore and sophomore Abbey Gavin.