Niagara Frontier 16U Gold places third at Can-Am boys volleyball tournament
The Can-Am Tournament had teams from Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and New York, as well as the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec. The two-day tournament ends with the top three teams earning invitations to the week-long Boys Junior National Championships in Phoenix, Arizona, in July.
The 16U Gold team — whose roster this past weekend included Clarence resident Teddy Payne, West Seneca resident Nate Petrik, and Orchard Park residents Jake Janus, Greg Jubulis, Nate Lippitt and Nick Thomas, along with Jake Basinski, Joe Botticello, Saferino Dour, Alex Overhoff and Josh Williams — began the tournament by dominating pool play on Saturday. The squad won all three matches it played, only losing one of seven sets while defeating teams from Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Quebec.
Sunday’s second round of pool play saw the 16U Gold team win its first two matches against a team from Pennsylvania and another from Ontario.
With a 5-0 pool-play record, the team qualified for the Gold Medal bracket and earned a first-round bye. However, in the quarterfinals, the 16U Gold squad ran up against a tough team from Pittsburgh. After losing the first game in a 25-23 nailbiter, the 16U Gold team had to dig deep and fight back.
With their tournament hopes on the line and trailing 19-12, Niagara Frontier stormed back to won the second game, 25-23.
In the tiebreaking third game, Niagara Frontier eked out a 15-11 win to lock up the quarterfinal match.
In the semifinal, 16U Gold was pitted against the top-ranked host team, Pace Bootlegger’s 16-1 team. Pace, which eventually won the tournament championship, was too much for Niagara Frontier to handle as it won the match by 25-17 and 25-14 marks.
NFVB 16U Gold finished the tournament with a 6-1 record, winning 12 of the 16 sets it played.
The same group the weekend before moved up a division to play — and ultimately place second — in the 18U Niagara Cup Tournament at the Buffalo Niagara Court Center in West Seneca. The team went 4-0 in Jan. 7’s first round of pool play, sweeping both Lockport 18U and Rochester 17U. Teams were then regrouped for a second round of pool play, which NFVB 16U went 3-1, sweeping Lockport 17U and splitting with NFVB 17U.
With an overall pool play record of 7-1, the team was moved into the Gold Medal playoff bracket. In its quarterfinal match, NFVB 16U Gold swept a different Lockport 17U team, 25-22 and 25-23, to win the best-of-three match.
In the semifinal, NFVB 16U Gold defeated a team from Rochester, the Roc City Volleyball Club. NFVB dropped a close first game of the match, 25-23, but stormed back to win the second game, 25-18, and force a third game. In the deciding game, 16U Gold pulled away late to win by a 15-8 mark.
In the finals, NFVB locked horns with Lockport 17U. Lockport was just too much for the 16U Gold squad, though, as it lost in the finals by 25-18 and 25-13 scores.