Sanford leads Lockport girls to victory; boys sweep
By John D'Onofrio Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
The Niagara Falls Lady Wolverines wished they could have put a cap on Brittany Sanford on Wednesday night.
Sanford did everything but serve the pizza, sparking Lockport to a four-set victory over visiting Niagara Falls, topping Niagara Frontier League girls volleyball action.
Sanford recorded a dozen kills and added four blocks in a stellar performance for head coach Kim Lockie’s Lady Lions, who improved to 7-3 in the NFL, following their impressive 26-27, 25-13, 25-11, 25-20 win.
“She can jump out of this world,” Lockie said. “She wants the kill and her blocking is fantastic as well. We try to set her up as much as possible.”
With Lockport junior Jordyn Kwoka and senior Kailyn Szymanski (combined 45 assists) setting up Sanford & Co. throughout, the high-flying, enthusiastic Lady Lions middle hitter blasted shots past the Lady Wolverines (6-4 NFL) defense that had no answer.
“I’m really trying to pursuade her to keep working on her game and to play in college,” Lockie said. “Right now, she’s up in the air, but I’m trying to convince hert to go to Fredonia or UR. I believe in her.”
Sanford said it was a big win for her team.
“We were tied with them, so it was a good win for us tonight,” she said. “We’re a team based on energy and we really picked it up tonight. We talked a lot and really connected this match.”
Lockport came out slow and visiting Niagara Falls took advantage in the first set, winning by the peculiar score of 27-26. The match officials put a cap of 27 points on Wednesday’s sets, meaning the first team to reach 25 and lead by two points could win the set, but if the teams remained close and the set dragged on, the first team to reach 27 would win the set.
Lockport freshman Kathryn Krchniak (10 kills, 8 digs) and juniors Alyssa Wagner and Hailey Bechtold took turns drilling kills over the net in the first set, but Toni Polk (5 kills, 2 blocks) and Bobbie Lee (4 kills, 2 blocks) of Niagara Falls were too much and the visitors stole the opening set by a point.
“We weren’t communicating in the first set,” Wagner said. “We just got in the huddle and discussed how we had to talk more and put the ball down.”
Added Lockie, “We were sleepy in the first set. My leaders came out in the second set — I switched up the line-up a bit — and were more fired up. We always do better when we start with serve and we got on a 10-1 run and that gave us more momentum and kept them on their toes.”
Bechtold had a great game serving, while Sanford and Wagner went to the rafters for some powerful kills as the blue and gold won the set easily, 25-13.
Lockport once again opened up a big lead to open the third set and led 7-0 before the Falls earned their first point. Bechtold (4 aces, 5 kills, 9 digs), Sanford and Wagner had their best sets of the match as the Lady Lions rolled to a 25-11 win.
The fourth and final set was a see-saw affair, but LHS senior Megan Schneider, junior Faith Heal, Sanford and Wagner had big kills, while Bechtold and freshman Braillen Hare served consistently well as Lockport closed out the match, 25-20.
“We came out strong tonight. I thought Bobbie Lee did a great job getting a lot of touches on the ball,” said NFHS head coach Martha Amoretti. “We were a little short-handed tonight and had a girl come up from JV to play with us. Arianna Carr did a good job. She hustled and picked up a lot of balls that other people don’t get to.”
Lockport 3, N. Falls 0
NIAGARA FALLS — Head coach Joe Whalen’s visiting Lions improved to 7-0 in the NFL by beating the Wolverines in straight sets Wednesday, 25-1, 25-17, 25-10.
Solid serving by seniors Jonah Ribbeck and Bryce Perry led the Lions to victory. Niagara Falls showed bursts of athleticism in game two, as their front row blockers got their timing in synch with the Lion’s attack.
Difficulty passing eventually cost the home team the game, and plagued them throughout the match.
Next up, Lockport (12-3 overall) is home at 6:15 p.m. Friday against Kenmore West, then host their annual tournament beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday.