Fulton and the championship banner

The Fulton varsity girls volleyball team celebrates its Section III Class A championship with the banner on Saturday after its 3-0 sweep over Jamesville-DeWitt. It’s the first section crown for the Red Raiders since 2011.

PHOENIX — Beating a team three times in one season is never easy.

It’s even harder when the opposing team is the second-best in Section III Class A, and is vying for its third consecutive sectional crown. 

But the Fulton varsity girls volleyball team was up to the task Saturday and defeated Jamesville-DeWitt 3-0 (25-19, 25-17, 25-17) for the Red Raiders’ first sectional title since 2011.

“We’re just ecstatic. I can’t put it into words. I’m so happy for these girls,” Fulton coach Jessica Frost said. “I’m so proud of all of them. I’m so happy for the school and our community. It’s just really heartwarming.”

Even though Fulton had already beaten J-D twice during the regular season — a 3-1 win at home followed by a 3-0 sweep at the Red Rams — Frost said there were some additional nerves with it being the third game against the Red Rams. 

And knowing how the game of volleyball can go sometimes, “any team can beat anybody on any given day,” Frost added.

“There were nerves being in a playoff situation. This is a big platform that we’re playing on,” Frost said. “We got it done. … But once they stepped on the court, they took charge and they were driving the car.”

The Red Raiders used a few three-point runs to their advantage during the opening set, taking an early 10-4 lead before J-D called a timeout. After Maddie Baum recorded a block during the middle of the set, putting Fulton up 17-8, the Red Rams called another timeout.

J-D recorded a kill, making the score 23-13 and Elsa Hardt went on a long run, putting some pressure on Fulton. She recorded a couple aces in the seven-point run, before Riley Kempston finally recorded a kill to give the Red Raiders the serve back.

Sydney Sachel pushed the ball over the net to an empty space on the court and gave Fulton a 1-0 lead in the match, winning the set 25-19.

Despite falling in the set, the Red Rams used the late momentum early in the second set, going up 6-1 early. After a couple traded points with the score 8-3, Kempston went on a six-point streak, tying the set at 8-8. Natalie Frost recorded a couple kills in the run.

The teams traded points a couple more times before Baum went on a large run of her own, putting the Red Raiders up 14-11 when J-D used its first timeout of the set.

Sachel and Addison Pickard recorded a combined three aces toward the end of the set before J-D couldn’t return a volley, giving Fulton the 25-17 set win.

“We got in a serve-receive rut,” Jessica Frost said. “We came back and played steady and ended up taking control of the game. Everybody played a part out there on the court.”

Fulton got off to a quick start in the final set, with J-D calling its first timeout when the Red Raiders led 5-1 after an out-of-bounds return from the Red Rams. Just three more points later — after an ace from Pickard and an ensuing block from another player — J-D used its final timeout of the set.

The Red Rams gave a small pushback, but Natalie Frost recorded a few more kills, putting the set out of reach for Fulton. 

The final point came off a serve from Mackenzie Coant, followed by a yet another kill from Natalie Frost — her 15th of the contest — to give Fulton the 25-17 set win, and the 3-0 match sweep.

“They left it all out on the court. My middle, Mackenzie Coant, she was on fire today, blocking and hitting,” Jessica Frost said. “It was a well-played game by everybody out there.”

Natalie Frost finished the match with 15 kills, six digs, 1.5 blocks, an assist and an ace. Sachel recorded 21 assists, eight digs, three aces and three kills. Coant tacked on seven blocks and two kills. Pickard added eight digs, three aces, two kills and an assist. Joann LeVea chipped in nine digs and an assist. Baum had three kills, two digs and 1.5 blocks. Kempston contributed three digs, an ace, a kill and an assist. Izabella Bogardus had two digs. 

Fulton (17-1), now riding a 17-game win streak after dropping its first game of the regular season to Liverpool, advances to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association subregional round.

The Red Raiders travel up north to Ogdensburg on Wednesday to take on Massena, which was the champion for Class A in Section X. 

Massena has a 6-10 record.

But on Saturday, Jessica Frost hadn’t even looked this far ahead — she was purely focused on the sectional championship. It was a day that started with a team breakfast, and in a “somewhat normal season” where the Red Raiders weren’t able to have team dinners, being able to “play again and get to be together as a team” was what mattered most.

“I told the girls, ‘Let’s focus on this game and get it done.’ Everything else is icing on the cake. This is what we wanted to get done. This is what we set out to do. And we did it,” Jessica Frost said. “I’m riding this wave. … We get to play more volleyball.”

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