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Tully girls volleyball continues dominating run with perfect season
Tully extended its 32-game winning streak with its championship win over Mount Markham. (Photo: Tully Athletics)

Tully girls volleyball continues dominating run with perfect season

TULLY, N.Y. (BVM) – The Tully girls’ volleyball team achieved one of the hardest things in sports with its completion of a perfect season. The Black Knights ended their season with a record of 21-0. In their final game they won the Section III C Sectional Championships on Feb. 12 with a 3-1 win against Mount Markham. 

The victory in the championship game extended a 32-game winning streak that dates back to last March when Tully beat Onondaga High School 3-0 in last year’s season opener. The section title was the culmination of this two-year journey. One that was left incomplete when last year’s section tournament was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I’ve been thinking about us riding that undefeated streak for two years now,” Tully coach Jeremy Cook said in an interview with after the game.

That undefeated streak was the product of two years of hard work and team building from Tully’s entire program. The team’s overall statistical rankings might not seem impressive at first glance, ranking third in kills with 575, third in assists with 513, ninth in digs with 907, and fourteenth in blocks with 56 in Section III. But there’s a good reason for that. They’re so dominant they play less total volleyball than other teams in the section.  

The Black Knights have won an impressive 14 games without losing a set and have never lost more than a single set in a game this season. So, it’s only natural that their raw numbers wouldn’t seem notable on their own. However, those statistics belie the team’s consistent on court superiority against their opponents. The Black Knights may not be league leaders in, say, kills or aces but they do lead the section in the most important statistic of all—wins. 

Tully’s head coach Jeremy Cook knows he can rely on the collective brilliance of his roster to throw his opponents off kilter and then exploit their dearth of talent compared to the Black Knights. A strategy that’s best exemplified when talking about senior Alexa Shay’s service strategy. He says that the goal isn’t necessarily to land aces but to disrupt the other team by focusing on Shay’s accuracy rather than power. 

“She also is a major threat from the service line,” Cook told in an interview last week. “She doesn’t create a lot of aces but serves tough and puts our opponents out of system frequently.” 

Once their opponents are out of system the Black Knights rely on their team chemistry so that each player can fully express her best individual talent to help the team win. Shay sets up her teammates—she’s second in Section III in assists. Senior Emma Byrne uses her athleticism and coordination to deliver crushing hits that can’t be returned, leading Section III in kills with 278 this season. While junior Veronica Kowaleski, who leads the team in digs, uses her superb defensive instincts to keep the ball alive so the Black Knights can rally effectively. 

All of which allows the team to play with the confidence that it can ride out any tough moments that might come its way during a game. Just as it did in the first set of Saturday’s championship game when the Black Knights came back from a five-point deficit twice to win the set 25-23. 

Whenever a team can combine mental toughness with an abundance of talent, they’re inevitably going to put themselves in a position to be able to have a rewarding season. Which the Black Knights were finally able to do this season; even if they had to wait a little longer than expected to get their hands on the title. 

“Since we didn’t get a chance at sectionals last year, this could not have ended more perfectly than winning the title,” Byrne said. 

It was the perfect ending to a perfect season. Well, actually, two perfect seasons.

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