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Eastchester Falls to Pelham in Volleyball Final

CROSS RIVER, N.Y. – Midway through the first game, the Pelham volleyball team started to roll. And once it began, Eastchester was unable to stop it. Top-seeded Pelham closed the opening game with a spurt and carried the momentum the remainder of the match in a 25-18, 25-10, 25-11 victory over the second seed in the Section 1 Class B volleyball championship.

The Pelicans, now 18-1, advance to regional play, Thursday, in Elmira, according to Pelham coach Mark Finegan. This is Pelham’s first sectional volleyball title and the Pelicans did it by sweeping every match.

“This feels amazing, to be the first team to do this, and for Mr. Finegan, who has worked so hard with us,” said senior captain Loren Cecil.

Pelham, which was coming off a sweep of defending champion Hen Hud in the semifinals, found itself trailing, 8-5 in the first game. To compound matters, Pelham was without starter, Amanda Dempsey, who was on crutches after spraining her right ankle in practice Friday.

Once Pelham settled in, the teams traded points through 18. Pelham took the lead on a Megan Krause kill. Krause stepped to the service line and run off the last six points, punctuated by a Tori Bowser kill.

“We ran out of subs and Megan had not served for us all season,” said Cecil, who had a match-leading 15 digs. “Winning that first game got our energy level up and we kept it there the whole time.”

Fellow captain Lauren Keller agreed with Cecil and also cited Krause’s performance.“Megan played her best game of the season,” said Keller, who rang up 38 assists.

Pelham opened the second and third games with lengthy service runs, thanks to Rachel Courtien. The junior ran off six points when she served first in the second game, propelling Pelham to a 7-1 lead. In the third game, Courtien’s seven consecutive service points gave Pelham an 8-2 advantage. After Courtien’s service spurt, captain Marissa Volpe collected six consecutive service points to give Pelham a commanding lead at 15-4.

Pelham’s defense was a major factor in the victory. The Pelicans were diving for loose balls and digging up almost everything. Captain Meghan McDonough finished with 10 digs and Helen Gandler and Courtien each had seven. Pelham also negated Eastchester’s hitting with excellent net play as Bowser and her teammates blocked numerous spikes.

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