It was a very good Saturday for the Bynon family.
Father Gary’s Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake girls volleyball team advanced to its sixth consecutive state tournament with a three-game sweep over Section X champion Massena in the class A regional, while eldest son Mike helped the BH-BL boys volleyball team win its first regional crown by defeating Section VI champ Orchard Park in the finals at Shenendehowa High School.
As far as that (boys) team goes, the time those kids, those coaches and those parents put in over the years paid off, said Gary. `As far as my team goes, we’ve (improved) as much as any team of mine has gone in my career.`
The volleyball teams weren’t the only ones celebrating in Burnt Hills Saturday. The girls cross country team won its second consecutive class A state title, while the boys and girls soccer teams advanced to states after picking up regional victories.
`It is amazing,` said girls soccer coach Brian Bold. `It’s amazing for our district and for a school of our size. But if you ask anyone ` the coaches, the staff, the administration ` they’ll say it’s the kids who are responsible for this.`
In the case of the boys volleyball team, it was a group of nine seniors ` headed up by Mike Bynon, Dave Fischer, Sam Guba, Luke Farrell and Mike Pelletier ` who helped BH-BL win its first regional title in four tries.
`This group has been together since seventh grade, and they’ve been working hard ` whether it’s in the season or in the off-season,` said BH-BL boys volleyball coach Paul Sander.
`I’ve always bragged to people about not only are we good players, but we’re also the best of friends,` said Mike Bynon. `Playing together has been awesome, and gelling off the court has really helped us become a great team.`
Orchard Park tested BH-BL’s resolve in the championship match. After losing the first game 25-20, the Quakers battled the Spartans tooth and nail through the next two games with powerful spikes and strong serves. But BH-BL (34-1) countered with a combination of power and finesse to win both games to complete a three-game sweep against the only team that defeated it during the regular season.
`We had talked about using the off-speed stuff because we’d seen a little weakness on their side toward that,` said Sander.
Blocking also factored into BH-BL’s victory. Several of the Spartans’ points came off successfully defending Orchard Park’s spikes, including one by Greg Ogle that capped BH-BL’s 26-24 win in the second game.
`Our blocking really picked up, especially in this last match,` said Sander.
Fischer provided the power with 13 kills, while Guba had a strong all-around match with nine kills, five digs and two blocks. Pelletier chipped in with seven kills, including the championship-clinching kill in the third game, Bynon contributed several service points and Farrell added 36 assists.
It’s the first time in the six years Section II teams have competed at the state class A regional tournament that one has won the title. It also marked the end of the careers of a group of BH-BL players that has won four consecutive Suburban Council championships.
`I have never played with a group of kids at the top of their games like today,` said Mike Bynon. `To finish it off like that is great.`
`It’s going to be disappointing not playing with them, but to end it on a high note is a great feeling,` added Pelletier.
While Saturday marked the ending of the boys volleyball season, it marked the continuation of the girls volleyball season as BH-BL defeated Massena by scores of 25-9, 25-13 and 25-6 to earn its sixth consecutive trip to the state tournament.
`Both teams played as well as they could, and we get to go on,` said Gary Bynon.
Leanne Merchant had 10 kills, and Maria Allocco added seven kills for BH-BL, which faces Victor, Hendrick Westhampton Beach and defending class A champion Hendrick Hudson at this weekend’s state tournament in Glens Falls.
`It’s the state final four. We’ve got nothing to lose,` said Bynon. `I have every bit of confidence that if we can do some good things, we have a good chance to make some noise.`
While the volleyball teams were cleaning up at regionals, the BH-BL girls cross country team did the same at the state meet at Norwood-Norfolk High School. Despite missing two key runners, the Lady Spartans ran away to the class A crown with 31 points, 52 points ahead of runner-up Pittsford Mendon.
Junior Sam Roecker gave BH-BL a jolt by placing second overall in a time of 17:34.3, less than three seconds behind individual champion Emily Lipari of Roslyn. But it was what the next five Lady Spartans did that separated BH-BL from the pack. Eighth grader Alyssa Drapeau placed 16th in a time of 19:08.0, and senior Martha Brown finished 20th in a time of 19:15.0. Seven seconds later, a group of three freshmen ` Riley Wilk, Rachael Cyrus and Rachel Stalker ` crossed the finish line to clinch the state title.
`We didn’t get out particularly well, but they somehow found each other around that first mile and stayed together,` said BH-BL girls cross country coach Shaun Zepf.
BH-BL won’t pursue a Federation title this weekend, as Zepf is giving his team the weekend off to prepare for the Nike Team Nationals Northeast regional at Bowdoin State Park in Wappingers Falls and allow Meaghan Gregory and Molly Pezzulo to heal. Gregory is still recovering from a bout of mononucleosis, and Pezzulo has a pulled calf muscle.
`To have to run the same course (at Bowdoin State Park) two weeks in a row didn’t make sense to me,` said Zepf.
The boys and girls soccer teams will try to match the girls cross country team’s success this weekend at their respective state tournaments. The boys team advanced with a 3-1 regional victory over Section X champion Malone Saturday, while the girls team moved on with a 1-0 win against Massena at Broadalbin-Perth High School.
Mike Eddy, David Pfeil and Ethan Chase tallied for the BH-BL boys team, which faces Iroquois (Section IV) Saturday in Oneonta.
Monica Wolf’s second half goal propelled the BH-BL girls team into Friday’s class A semifinal against defending state champion South Side in Cortland.
The BH-BL field hockey team lost 1-0 to Section III champion Camden in Saturday’s regional at Skidmore College.“