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SECTION IV VOLLEYBALL: OWEGO AVENGES 2022 LOSS TO M-E, RECLAIMS TITLE (2023-11-05)

By TIM TAYLOR
Tioga County Sports Reports
CORNING — Sometimes, a loss to a team you felt you should have defeated can motivate you if you meet again. Such was the case Saturday when Maine-Endwell and Owego met for the Section IV Class A volleyball championship.

“Being in that fourth set last year, being 24-21 and M-E coming back at us was absolutely a motivator this year,” Owego coach Abbey Manning said. “The girls have been talking about it since literally summer, so it's been on our radar since the beginning of the season and they did not stop working throughout the whole season.”

The River Hawks had the Class B title within their grasp last year only to have M-E battle back to knock them off in five sets. Not this time.

With both teams moving to Class A this season, the Spartans and Hawks would meet again for the sectional title. This time, the Hawks prevailed, 3-1.

“Honestly, I have no words right now,” Manning said. “Being 16-2 is unbelievable. Last year we came into this game being 14-0, I believe, and we lost that game. I think those two losses that we had in the middle of the season benefitted us in a weird way, but in a good way. This team wanted it more than anything. Division champs, then STAC champs, now sectional champs. Unbelievable.”

Owego won the opening set, 25-17, but M-E responded with a 25-20 win to even the match at one apiece. The Hawks then won the next two games, 25-21 and 25-18, to regain the title.

Absolutely. Um, being in that fourth set last year being 24, 21 and Emmy coming back at us was absolutely a motivator this year. The girls have been talking about it since literally summer, so it's been on our radar since the beginning of the season and they did not stop working throughout the whole season.

In the first set, Owego worked an early 8-3 advantage, but a handful of big hits by Aleciyah Brodley helped the Spartans tie the score at eight.

The Hawks would regain the lead, but M-E hung tough, trailing only by two until several kills by Maggie Hamed allowed Owego to score 11 of the final 16 points.

The Spartans regrouped to take the second game although they never led by more than four until the final stretch.

M-E held a 10-6 lead at one point, then rallied from a 15-14 deficit to go ahead, 19-15.

The Hawks closed with two at 22-20, but M-E scored the final three points to even the match at one game apiece. With Michaela at the service line, Owego built an 8-3 advantage early in game three. The Hawks would create 5-point leads four more times, but couldn’t pull away.

Meanwhile, the Spartans would trim the margin to two on five occasions, but were unable to move any closer. Game four saw the Spartans grab a 3-1 lead, but Owego put together a 10-2 run to go ahead, 11-5.

M-E rallied to tighten things up and trailed just 14-13, but the Hawks, while holding a 20-18 edge, scored the final five points.

Teamwork, especially on defense, was key to Owego’s victory.

Manning noted that outside hitter Maggie Hamed registered 21 kills on the night, including the 500th of her career to score the final point of the match.

“Lexi Herceg played out of her mind as well,” the coach added. “And then our defense played awesome. Across the board.”

Herceg handed out 23 assists to go with eight digs and three kills while Hamed also had eight digs to go with a trio of aces.

Shannon Maslin chipped in with 13 digs and three assists; Bella Miller contributed 13 assists, four digs and two aces; Sofia Silvanic added 14 digs; Emma Bryant pitched in with six kills, six digs and an ace; Logan Georgia had seven kills and two blocks; Kayla Newman had four kills and a block; and Michaela Terry tacked on five kills and a block.

Owego (16-2) will host a regional game Saturday at Chenango Valley at 2 p.m.

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IN PHOTO 1: Owego's Maggie Hamed registers her 500th career kill. ... PHOTOS BY TIM TAYLOR.
...click here for video or photo gallery

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