CORNING – Horseheads couldn’t get the key points when it needed them, falling 3-1 to John Jay Cross River in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class A girls volleyball regionals Wednesday at Corning-Painted Post High.
John Jay, seeking its first final four appearance in program history, prevailed 25-21, 21-25, 25-21, 25-20.
Horseheads (15-2) was competitive all the way, but John Jay (20-2) received clutch play up front from Taylor McCarthy, Julie Mines and Eilish Newcomb to advance to the regional finals Friday at SUNY Ulster.
“When push came to shove, we didn’t close things out,” Horseheads coach Patti Perone said.
The two teams met in September at the Hendrick Hudson tournament, and Horseheads came out on top of a one-game matchup 25-16.
Perone said John Jay ran a different offense from the one she saw earlier in the year.
“They were a different team. But we were a different team then, too,” Perone said. “Early on (Wednesday), we didn’t get enough touches, enough of the ball on defense. Later, our digging got a lot better.”
Horseheads, which held a lead in all four games, got 12 digs from Elisabeth Estep.
In the opener, the Blue Raiders went up 5-4 as Karly Oliver made big plays up front. She finished with 16 kills and added two aces.
The Lady Indians ran off the next three points and stayed in front the rest of the way as Newcomb and McCarthy took over at the net.
Horseheads responded by breaking open a close second game, turning a 10-9 deficit into a 16-11 lead. John Jay threatened, cutting its 19-13 deficit to 23-21 before Amanda Schiefen and Megyan Merrill closed it out with slams at the net.
Schiefen ended up with nine kills and three blocks.
In Game 3, Horseheads led 7-5. Then McCarthy picked up the pace for John Jay on the way to 19 kills and three blocks for the match.
With their backs to the wall, the Blue Raiders scored the first two points and then fell behind 7-3. They rallied to tie it at 14-all before John Jay took the next four points.
Marlea Nolan made some big plays up front late, but John Jay held on. Nolan produced 18 kills and 11 digs.
“I’m not sure we’ve played a team as well-rounded as Horseheads. They put the ball in places we haven’t seen before,” John Jay coach Tom Rizzotti said.
Mines, at 5-foot-7, collected 18 kills and 21 digs. Newcomb, John Jay’s tallest player at 5-11, made three blocks.
“We’re not a big team,” Rizzotti said. “But I’m not sure I’ve ever coached a team with more heart. There is no quit in them.”
Perone believes Horseheads could have been the 3-1 winner if things had gone differently.
“On a different day, we could have taken the match,” she said. “This is very competitive.”
On Twitter: @SGJoeMink