CORNING - Horseheads captured its first Section IV title in four years under first-year head coach Tim Crout with a straight sets victory over Corning Saturday.
Crout took over for legendary head coach Patti Perone who coached the Blue Raiders to 24 sectional titles and a state championship in 2001. Crout spent 12 years as the junior varsity coach before taking over this season, winning the STAC West in all but one season.
“For me to be a first-year coach after taking over for a legend in Patti Perone and for me to win not only the STAC West, but the Class AA championship, I couldn’t be more excited not only for the girls myself and the school,” said Crout.
A sweep is what will show in the record books after the Blue Raiders won 25-18, 25-22 and 25-21, but Horseheads had to battle from as many as five points down in the first two sets and faced deficits in all three sets.
The Hawks came out and led the first set 12-9, capitalizing on Horseheads miscues on four of its first five service attempts until senior libero Avery Snyder stepped to the line and served nine straight points and put the Blue Raiders out 18-13. Snyder also added 14 digs and had two service aces.
“The girls fought and fought and fought,” said Crout. “Avery Snyder led us on a big run. That was the turning point of the set.”
Corning again led in the second set by scores of 7-2, 10-4, 13-8 and 15-13, but Horseheads stormed back to take its first lead at 19-18 and never trail again.
“Second game, I give Corning all the credit in the world, they were up on us and playing very good solid volleyball, but the kids dug deep again,” said Crout. “I can’t say enough about our senior leadership.”
The Hawks again held a two point advantage in the third set at 13-11, but were outscored 14-8 from that point.
Eva Kursik saw time at setter for the first time this season and gave Horseheads a much needed boost with 30 setter assists.
“First time she’s set at this level,” Crout said. “I wanted to give her a shot. She came in there and did an amazing job.”
Taylor Malone had 13 kills, seven digs and an ace for the Blue Raiders while Cameron Knapp added six kills and three blocks
Corning, with first-year head coach Amber Freelove at the helm, finishes with a 9-6 record in dual matches.
Horseheads finishes with a 14-2 conference record.