Blue Bombers narrowly fall to rivals

Lake Placid’s Nadia Philip makes a play on the ball during a road match against Saranac Lake on Sept. 19. (News photo — Parker O’Brien)

SARANAC LAKE — The Saranac Lake volleyball team continued its success over Lake Placid with a 3-2 win on their home court on Monday, Sept. 19. But unlike in recent years, the win was anything but easy for the Red Storm.

Saranac Lake narrowly edged out the Blue Bombers by scores of 14-25, 25-8, 25-21, 22-25 and 15-13, in what proved to be a competitive match.

The Blue Bombers, who entered Monday’s match having won three of their last four outings, came right at the Red Storm by taking a 9-3 advantage in the opening set. Lake Placid then stretched its lead to win the first set by 11 points.

The opening set win marked the first time the Blue Bombers had won a set over Saranac Lake since the 2016 season.

Backed by a loud and large student section, the Red Storm took control of the second set from the get-go and never let up. After taking a 19-8 lead, Saranac Lake junior Payton Barry served up the Blue Bombers and her team rallied behind her to end the set on a 6-0 run.

The third set proved to be a much more competitive matchup. While Lake Placid never led in the third, the team held its ground and didn’t allow Saranac Lake to take more than a four-point advantage.

“I’m really proud of how we came back after that tough second set,” Blue Bombers head coach Sandy Huber said. “It takes a lot of mental toughness to block out a good loud crowd like that. I think at times we struggled with it, but when we were able to block it out and stay in the zone, we played really well.”

Trailing 2-1 in the match, things didn’t start well for Lake Placid. The team allowed the Red Storm to take a 16-10 lead in the fourth set.

Trailing by six, Lake Placid’s Nadia Philip took full control of the set with her serves and helped her team earn nine straight points to take a 19-16 lead. The Blue Bombers then latched on to the lead to force a fifth set.

“Nadia served so well today,” Huber said. “She was mad. She’s a very competitive player. She kind of takes things personally if she gets blocked or drugged, or aced. She just wants revenge and she was a little frustrated for a while when Saranac Lake’s hitters were hitting really well and that’s how she got her revenge.

“Usually, she does it by hitting, but tonight her serves were on fire,” she added. “It was nice to see her be able to turn the whole team’s mood around from her tough serves.”

In the fifth and final set, both teams looked poised to come out on top. The two squads traded points back and forth and met at 13-13, before the Red Storm rallied off two points to win the match.

Lake Placid’s Julia Crawford had a big night on both sides of the court. Crawford finished with 11 kills, nine digs, five points, two aces, one block and one assist.

“Julia had a fabulous game. I think she probably took 50 swings,” Huber said. “Norah (Galvin) did a great job setting her and (so did) Sydney Garrison. Both of our setters made some really smart sets. But I’ve got Norah opposite Julia in the lineup so she can set middle a lot to her. I’m imagining her shoulder is a little bit sore. She really kept us in. Our whole team — we missed a lot of serves — but fortunately we barley missed any hits. I was really proud of that.”

Philip served up a team-high 19 points, and also led the way with 10 aces, while earning four kills. Philip also contributed on the defensive side with six digs and two blocks. Syndey Lawrence led the charge defensively with seven digs, and Galvin and Garrison combined 12 assists.

Despite dropping the match, Huber said she hopes her team’s efforts against Saranac Lake give them a boost of confidence and momentum going forward.

“They’re such a bigger school and they’ve always been really strong in volleyball,” Huber said. “The last few years, we would never dream of going five sets with them. This is the year that we’ve had a lot of nice surprises, starting out with three wins and getting that confidence early on was really important to be able to compete with a team like this.”

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