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Comets finish conference season undefeated
Times photo: Adam Krebs Argyles Kayla Ostby (10) and Danielle Truethardt (6) try to block a spike off the hand of Albanys Kaitlyn Schulz during Thursdays Six Rivers East regular season final. Albany won in three sets, 25-132, 25-22, 25-9.
ALBANY - The Comets are not only Six Rivers East champions, but they are undefeated champs.

"We really wanted it. It felt really good. All the stress was relieved," senior hitter Sydney Bump said of winning conference. "We were close last year, but we really wanted it this year, (my) senior year."

Albany swept Argyle Thursday in the regular season finale, 25-12, 25-22, 25-9.

"It's wonderful. We've been trying to be conference champs since we were sophomores. It feels great to finally do it," said senior Hillary Best.

The Orioles hardly found themselves in the contest throughout the night, holding a 7-5 lead in Game 1. Argyle's largest lead was in the second game, when it led Albany 18-10. The Comets were struggling with maintaining an offensive possession and turned to two players to bring them back - Kirstie Kauk and Sydney Bump.

"The big thing was Kirstie's serves. When she serves it then we can pass," Comets head coach Connie Wunschel said. "In the second game we were missing a lot of serves. When Kirstie got back there I told her that we have got to have her serves. She got it her serves and we got caught up."

Kauk had five service points and kept the ball in play, allowing the Comets to set up their offense - specifically Bump.

"There's no question about where they (Albany) are going to go - they're going to go to her (Bump) every chance that they get," Argyle head coach Shane Johnson said. "The only way to limit those opportunities is to create some offense for yourself and keep them off balance. We didn't do that at all."

Bump, the reigning conference player of the year, smacked down four straight kills, forcing an Argyle timeout. Two points later, Bump added a tip kill.

"Sometimes it's mental. When we get down we have to get ourselves back up and back into the game. We have to get into a rhythm," Bump said.

Albany finished off the set on a 15-4 run, leaving Argyle drained. The momentum carried into the third game, in which the Orioles were never able to take flight.

"They (Albany) played a great match. They're a good team and that's why they've done well for themselves this year," Johnson said. "The whole match was dictated on mistakes. When you don't communicate with each other and run into each other - you can't make a play that way. Errors after errors after errors."

The Comets jumped out to a 16-4 lead in the final set and watched an Oriole serve go out of bounds, capping the undefeated campaign.

"I saw the ball go out of bounds and I just kind of watched and looked. Then the girls reacted and it hit me," Wunschel said. "I'm exhausted, I'm excited, I'm exhilarated (and) I'm overwhelmed. We knew that conference would be in our sights. To go undefeated, you can't imagine that until it happens."

Bump finished the night with 18 kills, senior Kaitlyn Schulz had 14 digs, seven kills and five aces and senior Courtney Pfeuti had 29 assists. Best added eight kills for Albany. Abby Flanagan had two aces for Argyle, with Micala Peterson notching 13 digs and six kills.

Best missed time during the season with an ankle injury.

"I got to watch my players and I got to see some different things when I'm not out there. I can go in and see the open spots - I know where they are now," Best said.

Albany, a two-seed in its WIAA Division 4 Regional, hosts Williams Bay in the first round of the playoffs Tuesday, Oct. 19. The second round will likely pit the Comets against Black Hawk, a team that had ruled the Six Rivers East the past three seasons. After that would be perennial state contender, No. 1 seed Burlington Catholic Central.

"Our next goal is to be the regional champions," Best said.

"We're going to take it one game at a time and focus on each team and not looking ahead," said Bump, who is still undecided on which school she will play for in college.

Argyle will host Pecatonica Tuesday and the Orioles are going to spend the next few practices trying to get into a rhythm.

"We'll do what we do every day - keep preparing and get ourselves ready to be competitive in our next match," Johnson said.