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New classification puts Fairport, R-H girls volleyball in title game before season starts

By in Fairport NY News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The governing body of New York State high school sports added a new classification this year for seven different sports; girls volleyball, boys soccer, girls soccer, boys basketball, girls basketball, baseball, and softball.

The New York State Public High School Athletic Association made the change to “provide more equity amongst all NYSPHSAA Championship sports and greater opportunity for students to experience an NYSPHSAA Championship.” The decision has some radical effects in Section V.

In girls volleyball, only Fairport and Rush-Henrietta are in Class AAA, the largest classification. Girls and boys soccer isn’t much better. An RCSD United team plays on the girls side and two RCSD combined teams as well as McQuaid will compete in Class AAA for boys soccer.

That means that in girls volleyball, the Red Raiders and Royal Comets have already punched their tickets for the sectional championship game.

The change is having mixed reactions in the local girls volleyball community, in part because of the differences between the two squads on the collision course.

Fairport is the defending Class AA champs and returns numerous key starters, including two Division I-bound players. The prospect of defending their title through another lengthy championship run was one the team was looking forward to.

“It’s frustrating and a little disappointing,” said Fairport head coach Trish Forgensi. “Sectionals should be pride. You go out to win sectionals for a reason, you go out to win it for your school, your community. Although that’s still our goal, obviously, this year we can’t do with as much oomph because we won’t have to have a sectional run, it will just be a sectional final.”

“That’s tough for us to take that and know that that won’t provide the momentum into regionals that maybe we had last year,” she added.”

“I think we were a little disappointed,” said Fairport junior captain Kiera Cornman, who will play beach volleyball at the University of Hawai’i. “Rush-Henrietta is still obviously a really good team, but we like having three games so there’s a buildup.”

Last year, Fairport took down Penfield in a hard-fought battle between two of the best teams in the state. This year, those matchups will have to come in the regular season.

“We do want to say that we really beat all the top teams to get to where we get so we feel the accomplishment,” said Cornman. “But we’re still going to play all those same teams during the season so we’ll have those challenges throughout the season.”

On the flip side, Rush-Henrietta will be in unfamiliar territory come playoff time. The Royal Comets finished 5-13 last year and were swept by Fairport twice in the regular season and lost in straight sets to Penfield in the quarterfinals.

“I was excited,” said Angelia Oechsle, a Rush-Henrietta senior captain. “We go straight to the finals. They’re a good team, we’re a good team, and I think it will be a good competition. We’re just going to have to play our best and work how we always do. We always work hard in practice and just be consistent with it.”

“It is a little weird,” said junior captain Gretchen Klossner. “But I feel like our team’s focus isn’t really on the sectional finals it’s about just building our team and growing as a team.”

“We’ve been talking about just competing for every point,” said R-H head coach Lyndsey Williams. “When we’re in that final game against Fairport, that’s it. I think if we practice that mentality of going into every single set counts, it’s not going to be anything different for us. I’m hoping that once we step onto the court with Fairport at the end of the season, it’s going to be what we practiced all year long.”

Both Oechsle and Klossner cite the team’s chemistry this season as one of the biggest reasons why they’re optimistic about the season.

Section V isn’t the only section in the state to have low numbers in their largest class. The Section V winner will take on Lancaster in the Far West Regionals because they are the only Section VI team in Class AAA. In Section XI on Long Island, there are only two Class D schools.

Fairport is eyeing a rematch with Lancaster after falling in the regionals last year, a let-down after they took down Penfield.

“I think we took our foot off the gas a little bit. We had so much energy going up to that moment into sectional finals and I think we definitely relaxed a little bit,” said Cornman. “Everyone kind of knows that feeling now so that just gives us even more motivation. That’s definitely in the back in our heads of everything that we do.”

The Red Raiders and Royal Comets will meet twice early in the regular season, on September 6th and 8th, with the third meeting in November having a bit more on the line.

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