BY MICHAEL KELLY
NISKAYUNA — Once Shenendehowa got itself close late in the first set of Tuesday’s Suburban Council girls’ volleyball match against Niskayuna, senior Nicole Adams made sure the Plainsmen’s comeback didn’t go to waste.
Back-to-back kills brought the Plainsmen within one.
A couple points later, Adams had a block at the net and then a kill to tie up the score.
A minute later, the Plainsmen had won a set in which they had often trailed big.
“That’s what she does best,” Shenendehowa head coach Lori Kessler said of her team’s top star. “She reacts, responds and finishes for us.”
Adams did that and more in Tuesday’s 26-24, 25-15, 25-11 win that ended after one of her serves was hit too hard for the upset-minded Silver Warriors to handle. The Shenendehowa senior finished with 11 kills, two aces and a pair of blocks.
“I try to make my presence known out there,” Adams said. “I want to do everything I can for this team.”
In Tuesday’s first set, Niskayuna (1-1, 1-1) pushed Shenendehowa (2-0, 2-1) hard enough to bring out the best in Adams. The Silver Warriors showed no fear early against the seven-time Section II Class AA champions, as Niskayuna took an early lead and forced multiple Shenendehowa timeouts.
“Our energy was high,” Niskayuna senior Casey Sims said. “We were talking more. We were just on.”
“We communicated a lot,” Niskayuna sophomore Stefana Stan said. “We were covering everything, and our passes were there.”
The Silver Warriors led 20-14 in the first set before Adams and the Plainsmen roared back. Shenendehowa did not lead in the first set until it went ahead 25-24 on an ace from junior Katie Greene.
“We had to get it clicking together — our blocking, along with our defense,” Shenendehowa senior Charlotte Macken said. “We needed to find our flow. Without that, we don’t get anywhere.”
Niskayuna head coach Christina Coons, whose team is giving ample time to a number of freshmen and sophomores, struggled to find answers once Shenendehowa got into a groove of getting the ball to Adams.
“They’re not used to that kind of power and pace,” Coons said. “She made us work.”
For Shenendehowa, Adams’ play provided a need lift.
“Our team feeds off that kind of energy,” Kessler said.
Niskayuna struggled to keep up with Shenendehowa after the Plainsmen came back to win the first set. The way the Silver Warriors competed early with Shenendehowa, though, left them encouraged.
“We’re definitely playing more as a collective team this year,” Niskayuna junior Molly Mason said.
While Adams did her part for the Plainsmen, Kessler’s team showed off its abundance of talent as the match continued. Macken finished with seven digs, senior Mary Talty added eight kills and junior Maddy Frutchey had six kills for Shenendehowa.
Those four veteran players, Kessler said, are leading the Plainsmen this season.
“The returners, as a whole, are sailing this ship and taking our new players under their wings,” Kessler said.
Even without their “A” game for the full match, that recipe was able Tuesday to keep the Plainsmen undefeated on the young season in league action.
“We were able to pull through,” Adams said.