Forestville’s season ends

PORTVILLE – The Cinderella story is over with for the No. 9 Forestville Lady Hornets.

After traveling to Panama and taking down the No. 8 seed Lady Panthers, Forestville pulled off the upset Tuesday with a victory over No. 1 Chautauqua Lake.

However, the run to the Section 6 Class D volleyball finals came to a halt Friday as No. 4 Portville spiked its way to victory, 25-17, 26-24, 20-25, 25-18.

The difference in the game was Portville’s Shaina Griffin, who had 29 kills. She was assisted by eighth grader Haley Unverdorben, who was credited with 51 assists.

“I told her to go out there and don’t stop swinging,” Portville coach Kelly Unverdorben said. “Just swing away.”

In the opening game, after jumping out to a 7-3 lead in the first game, the Lady Hornets allowed Portville to get back into it as the Lady Panthers used a 6-0 run to take a 9-7 edge, forcing Forestville to take a timeout.

Portville’s Makayla Wells served up nine straight service points, including two aces as the Lady Panthers took a 12-8 lead.

“We started out strong and we couldn’t serve-receive (Wells),” Forestville coach Jack Dugan said. “It wasn’t a case of anything we didn’t work on in practice. Our arms got a little shorter and a little tenser. That kind of was the difference when she made a run with those serves. My girls are resilient. They still kept fighting.”

The Lady Hornets worked their way back into the game as they tied the score 14-all thanks to a pair of Portville errors.

However, the Lady Panthers never trailed the rest of the way as they finished the match on an 11-3 run to win the match, 25-17.

“I think if we would have set the tone from the first game on, maybe things would have turned out differently,” Dugan said. “They are good.”

In the second game, it was a spike fest for Griffin. She nearly single-handedly kept the Lady Panthers afloat with 12 kills.

Despite Forestville’s inability to defend the spike, it found itself in the game in a back-and-forth battle at 12-12. Then it became a game of small runs as Portville trailed 16-13. Forestville took its turn with a run of its own and took a 19-18 lead before Portville tied it 19-all. Then, the Hornets went up 24-20, but Griffin once again got into the action with consecutive spikes to put the game 24-22, forcing Dugan to call a timeout.

The timeout did not help much as Griffin continued to spike her team to victory as she had five of her team’s six final points via the spike to steal the 26-24 victory.

“That was a crucial point,” Dugan said. “We just needed to get that one point. We played a little tentative and got away from the things that got us the lead and to game point. You get a team that gets hot and volleyball is such an emotional game. If you give a team belief, they take it and run with it.”

“Normally, I get pretty bummed, but the girls didn’t give up,” Unverdorben said. “They kept working for it. I can’t ask for anything more. As long as they put everything into it, that’s all I can ask.”

In the third game, it was obvious what Portville’s game plan was, as it consistently set up Griffin for more spikes.

However, a defensive change by Forestville proved to be key. Forestville’s Alisha Szumigala started to mirror Griffin.

“They started moving her around to keep her away from Alisha,” Dugan said. “She was getting hands on her hits. I have to give credit to Alisha. She went on (Griffin) alone and was able to read her a little better in Game 3.”

But in this game, it was her serves which helped the Lady Panthers. After falling behind 13-10, Griffin got a spike and dished up three straight aces for a 15-13 lead. It looked as if Portville had all the momentum, but Forestville made its run as it took a 19-18 edge and never looked back as it finished on a 7-2 run for the 25-20 victory.

” After we won Game 3, that woke us up,” Dugan said. “I told the girls, ‘We are dangerous and have been in this position before. Let’s go take advantage and make them pay for not closing the door. Let’s go do the things we do well as a team and build on that momentum from Game 3.”

Unfortunately, the Lady Panthers were too much. An 11-4 run helped the home team take a 17-10 lead it would not relinquish. Despite being down, the Lady Hornets continued to battle, but could not overcome the deficit.

“They don’t quit,” Dugan said about his team. “I never count them out – even when it was 24-18. They make things interesting. I know my heart must be strong because I have been in a lot of five-game matches this year. They never showed any quit and never showed any weakness. I couldn’t be prouder of them.

“It was a great season,” Dugan concluded. “I thought we could take that under dog card one more step. To be in the top 4, and to be a No. 9 seed, and do the things these kids did when no one but us thought we could, I can’t be disappointed about (Friday). Would I want one more game? Absolutely.”

Szumigala finished with five kills and eight digs while Lizzy Gilman had nine kills, three blocks and seven digs. Sierra Tweedie had six kills and 15 digs. Ashley VanBuskirk had seven assists and eight digs and Amanda Weaver charted 10 blocks and two digs for the Lady Hornets.