First-game rally sparks Lady Bills past Huskies

GLOVERSVILLE – With first place in the Foothills Council on the line, the Johnstown volleyball team dug itself out of a deep first-game deficit on its way to a 3-0 sweep of Gloversville on Wednesday.

The Lady Bills trailed 19-12 in the first game to the Huskies before winning 13 of the final 16 points on their way to a 25-22 win.

“Volleyball is always a game of momentum,” Johnstown coach Heather McGuire said. “We didn’t start playing our game until we started to come back in the first game.”

Johnstown rode its momentum to win the final two games 25-21 and 25-18 on its way to the sweep.

“We were in front from the very start in the first game, but you can’t give a good team like Johnstown any breathing room,” Gloversville coach Duane Hicks said. “We gave [Johnstown] some air, and then we gave them an oxygen tank.”

Annie Stock finished with 15 kills, seven digs and two aces to lead Johnstown, while Brianne O’Rourke posted eight kills, six blocks and two digs.

“Bri O’Rourke had a lights-out amazing game,” McGuire said. “Madison [Smrtic] played well defensively and Annie [Stock] was super consistent.”

Jerica Holland registered 15 assists, three kills and three digs for the Lady Bills, and Alyssa Nellis had 12 digs, four aces and four blocks.

Jenna Putnam led Gloversville with nine assists, eight digs, seven kills and two aces, while Katlyn Pierce finished with 10 kills, seven digs and four blocks for the Huskies. Shawna Funk added 10 digs for Gloversville, and Lizzie Peak had two kills and two aces.

In the first game, Gloversville was in control and holding a 19-12 lead until a Stock kill led to a five-point service run by Nellis that cut the Huskies’ lead to 19-18.

“As soon as we started to play offense, everything started to turn around for us,” McGuire said. “We got on a roll and carried that through the next two games.”

Two straight points by Gloversville pushed the lead back to 21-18 before Johnstown won seven of the next eight points to win the first game. Six of those points came on the serve of Morgan Catania.

“Losing that first game the way we did was tough because it gave them a lot of momentum, and we could never get it back,” Hicks said.

Gloversville, which outlasted Mayfield 3-1 in a non-league contest Tuesday, was hoping to regroup in the second game.

“I thought after getting a big win in Mayfield on Tuesday that we would roll right into tonight,” Hicks said. “We did at the beginning, but we couldn’t keep it going.”

However, the Lady Bills picked up where they left off, starting the second game with five straight service points from Nellis.

The Huskies closed the gap to 21-19 late in the second game, getting a pair of kills from Putnam and Pierce during their surge.

However, Johnstown closed out the second game by winning four of the last six points to earn a 25-21 win.

In the final game, the Lady Bills again got out to a quick start, jumping out to a 5-2 lead.

As she did in the first two games, Nellis had a five-point run that helped Johnstown extend its lead, this time to 20-12.

A three-point service run by Pierce helped the Huskies close to within five points at 23-18 before Johnstown closed the match by winning two of the final three points.

The win gives Johnstown a two-game lead in the Foothills Council standings heading into the second half of the schedule.

“It’s nice to have a two-game cushion in the standings, but it’s not a done deal,” McGuire said. “The Foothills is a tough league, and the second time around is always tough.”

The Lady Bills lead the Foothills Council standings at 7-0, while Gloversville, Broadalbin-Perth and Queensbury are tied for second at 5-2.

“We didn’t lose to a bad team by any means,” Hicks said. “We were hoping to be tied for the league lead after tonight, but we’ve got another shot at them later in the season. We’ll see what happens.”

Johnstown (8-1 overall, 7-0 Foothills) will host Scotia-Glenville on Friday at 6 p.m., while Gloversville (7-2 overall, 5-2 Foothills) will travel to Broadalbin-Perth on Friday for a 6 p.m. contest.

“We’ve had a very solid first half of the season,” Hicks said. “Were 7-2 overall and in good shape for the second half.”

Following its home contest with Scotia-Glenville, Johnstown will travel to Broadalbin-Perth next Wednesday and Queensbury next Friday.

“We’ve got a tough week next week,” McGuire said.

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