LOCKPORT — The remnants of 3-Lockport’s once dominant boys volleyball team held on for five sets on Tuesday, before finally succumbing to visiting 6-Lancaster, 3-2, in a Section VI large school boys volleyball quarterfinal.
Head coach Liz Smorol’s Lions, winners of back-to-back VI titles, finished an incredible 8-8 in 2019, despite graduating every starter from those championship teams, with the exception of libero Colin Fragale, an “old man” as the team’s only four-year member (and four-year starter),
Seniors Fragale, Larente Shelton, Dominic McCarthy and Trip Vohland all played their final matches for the blue and gold in their 25-17, 27-29, 25-18, 15-25, 15-12 loss to head coach Jason Stang’s Legends (5-12).
“We really didn’t feel like underdogs coming in. We had beaten Lockport twice before in tournaments, so we thought this was a good match-up for us,” Stang said.
“But I knew Lockport and I think I was more worried about Lockport than my team. You could see that at times where we didn’t have enough push throughout the game. Luckily, we found it at the end and we are able to win,” Stang said.
The Legends came out swinging, led by junior outside hitter Jackson Jerebko, winning Game 1 handily, 25-17. But the Lions bounced back it win Game 2, 29-27, led by some outstanding serving by freshman Kaidan Krchniak and strong play at the net by Krchniak, Shelton, Vohland and sophomore Andrew Mullane.
“Last year, we lost six seniors from our season in 2018, so this year was a rebuilding year. I would say we did well overall,” McCarthy said.
The remainder of Lockport’s roster features two sophomores, three freshmen and two eighth graders.
“We knew that this year we had to regrow from the years prior,” Fragale said. “We lost a lot of good people, so we had to start from the bottom and work on the fundamentals. We have a lot of new guys on the team.”
The Legends bounced back from their loss in Game 2 to claim Game 3, 25-18, but the Lions saved their best for Game 4, dominating the Legends to win that easily, 25-15, led in part by eighth grader Ryan McKinney’s outstanding effort at the service line and with assists. Mullane, Krchniak Shelton and freshman Zach Sanders also came up with big points.
“We just talked (between Games 3 and 4) and went over what we had to do,” said LHS senior setter Vohland, who wrapped up his first and only year of volleyball with a strong performance throughout.
“We had to show them what we truly had left in us to keep this game going. We fought to keep the energy and pressure. It just didn’t go our way,” Vohland said.
Added Shelton, a future biometric engineer, “We lost a big chunk of the team from last year and we had to build from the ground up. It was nice being able to meet so many new people.”