Panthers Volleyball Opens Season with Win

Panthers team following the season-opening win.
Panthers team following the season-opening win.

The 2018 Tompkins Cortland Community College volleyball season is off to a good start. The Panthers opened the season Thursday by rallying to beat Cayuga Community College 3-1. The win not only gives the Panthers a record of 1-0 this year, it also snaps a 30-match losing skid that dates back to September 24, 2016. Tompkins Cortland went winless in 21 matches last year.

Thursday's match was the first of the year for the Panthers, but Cayuga came in having already played one match (a loss to SUNY Broome). Any nerves associated with the start of the season didn't slow the Panthers early as the home team lead from the opening point, stretching the margin to as many as seven points at 19-12. Cayuga slowly chipped away at the lead, eventually using a five-point run to take their first lead at 24-23. The Panthers snapped the run, tying the score at 24-24, but the Spartans scored the final two points to take the opening set 26-24.

The Panthers again took an early lead in the second set, moving ahead by a score of 13-8. The lead stood at six points before a mini-rally by Cayuga closed the gap to three points. With the score at 20-17 and Cayuga threatening to take the momentum, a long rally ended with an emphatic block by Jade VanWagenen (McGraw/McGraw H.S.). The Panthers finished off the Spartans for a 25-20 in set number two.

The third set saw Cayuga take its biggest lead of the night, using a 7-2 run midway through the set to lead 17-14. The Panthers answered with a 6-3 run to tie the score at 20-20. After the teams traded points, Tompkins Cortland scored two straight to lead 23-21. The Spartans cut the lead to one point twice, but couldn't tie the game again as the Panthers held on for the 25-23 win.

Cayuga started the fourth set strong, leading by as many as three points before the Panthers chipped away and came back to tie the score at 9-9. The score was tied again at 11-11 before the Panthers went on a big run to seal the victory. Out-scoring the Spartans 14-5 gave the Panthers a final score of 25-16, and a 3-1 win for the match.

VanWagenen finished the match with team highs of 13 kills and 2 blocks. Ashley Smith (Lansing/Lansing H.S.) ripped 10 kills while also firing 3 aces. Amanda Green (Lansing/Lansing H.S.) directed the attack with 21 assists while also recording 2 aces, 2 digs, and 2 kills. Jessica Kenyon (Cortland/Cortland H.S.) anchored the defense with 9 digs.

The Panthers can enjoy the win through the weekend before returning to the court Wednesday at Corning Community College.