By Gib Snyder III
Oct. 15 - Tuesday night in the Forestville Central gym, the match between the Lady Hornets and the Chautauqua Lake Lady Thunderbirds was as much about girls volleyball as it was about raising money for breast cancer awareness.
Photo by Lisa Monacelli
Forestville’s Alisha Szumigala (7) goes on the attack while teammate Breanna Gibson (11) looks on during Tuesday’s non-league volleyball match against Chautauqua Lake. The players wore pink shirts as part of Forestville’s Annual Spike Out Cancer event.
"It's been nice, it's been easy," Forestville athletic director Scott Hazelton said. "As soon as we sell it to the community, people are calling us to find out how they can help. It's awesome."
Proceeds from the event, which was billed as 'Spike Out Cancer' will be donated to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation, amongst other causes.
"There's usually at least three to five foundations that we divvy the money up to," Hazelton said. "Watching all of the Fredonia State stuff when they did 'Pink the Rink', I thought it'd be cool to do that in a high school setting."
Things seemed to go as planned Tuesday as the gym was full of spectators eager to donate money and participate in a Chinese auction, silent auction for tickets to a Buffalo Bills game and a 50/50 drawing.
"Year in and year out, it doesn't matter what we're selling, or what the cause is," Hazelton said. "(The community) comes out.
"Forestville has always been a very, very giving community," Hazelton continued. "Whether it's donations, money or straight up volunteering to help us out."
Making things more special for head coach Jack Dugan was the fact that Joanne Meadows, the head coach of the Lady Thunderbirds was on the other side of the court.
"(Tuesday) volleyball was secondary to what we were doing as a team and what the kids were doing individually to raise money for 'Spike Out Cancer'" Dugan said. "And on a personal level, Joanne is a very close friend of mine and a coach that I've respected for years, so to have her and her kids here (Tuesday) meant a lot to me. That was special."
As for Meadows, cancer is something which has impacted her personally, as her husband Roy was diagnosed with a terminal form of the disease three years ago.
"We've made it a lot farther than we thought," Meadows said. "So this is such a personal thing for me too, so I was happy to be a part of this."
As for the action on the court, the Lady Thunderbirds won the non-league match in four sets, 25-21, 21-25, 25-15, 25-19.
"We were good in spurts," Dugan said. "But when it came to crucial times, we could have taken better care of the ball. And you can't give away points to a team like Chautauqua Lake, because they're so fundamentally sound and coached well. They make you earn your points and our serve-receive needed to be better."
The Lady Hornets jumped out to a quick 8-2 lead before the Lady Thunderbirds started to battle back.
"I had a funny feeling that when she called a timeout when we were up 8-1 or 8-2, I warned my kids that (Chautauqua Lake) was going to show a spark," Dugan said. "And sure enough, knowing Joanne the way I know Joanne and her kids, they're going to respond."
Down 12-8, Katie Meadows led the charge as she served up six straight points to help give Chautauqua Lake its first lead.
"She's been a really consistent server for us all year and does a nice job spot serving," Meadows said of her daughter Katie Meadows.
The teams went back and forth until the Lady Thunderbirds went on an 11-5 run to close out the first set.
"I always think once you get momentum going in volleyball, it's tough to stop somebody," Meadows said. "I think that Forestville, to its credit, came out strong and we didn't. We came out pretty flat, but I thought if we could come back and take that first game, the momentum was ours."
With the second set tied 18-all, the Lady Hornets used a 7-3 run to tie the match one set apiece.
"We have a hard time playing on (the right) side of the court," Dugan said. "And for them to respond after the loss and losing the way that we did, I was very pleased. I think we played hard, and I would never say my kids don't play hard, it's just that they've got to play with a little more emotion. We did that in spurts, but not all the time."
The Lady Thunderbirds used a 10-1 run to build a 17-5 lead which they never relinquished in the third set.
Once again, Katie Meadows set the pace with her service game, as she helped the Lady Thunderbirds to a 12-4 lead before closing out the set with three straight points.
"Her serving percentage is pretty high," Meadows said. "So when she gets back there to serve, it gives me a little bit of confidence."
In the final set, Chautauqua Lake held leads of 13-5, 16-8 and 21-13 before Forestville made a late charge to get within 22-19, but the Lady Thunderbirds scored the final three points of the set to take the match, 3-1.
Jenna Einink led the Lady Thunderbirds with 20 kills, 15 digs, four blocks and two aces while Katie Meadows finished with 21 assists, nine digs, six kills, five aces and a block.
"She led us in kills," Meadows said of Einink, "but I think she wasn't as much of a power game as she usually does. She's just such a smart kid and she can spot holes on the floor and she did that (Tuesday) a lot more than she usually does."
Tara Hunt added 21 assists, 14 digs, three kills and an ace while Ashton Albanesius chipped in 10 kills, nine digs, three assists, a block and an ace for Chautauqua Lake.
Alisha Szumigala charted 10 blocks and seven kills while Lizzy Gilman had nine kills and six blocks.
"She was aggressive at the net," Dugan said of Szumigala. "Defensively, her serve-receive wasn't the best, but when she was on the net, she made (Chautauqua Lake) change their offense a little bit. They tried to hit it around her and she was aggressive with the block. She was trailing their hitters and she was very active at the net."
No matter what the outcome of Tuesday match was, there were, at the end of the day, more important things at hand.
"It was an important night for raising awareness and raising money for cancer," Dugan said. "And it was good volleyball, I think we entertained the crowd."