GLENS FALLS — Amazing. Crazy. Exciting.
Those were some of the words that members of the Mattituck High School girls volleyball team used to describe their experience in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championships on Saturday. And that was with the Tuckers having gone winless in their first appearance in state semifinal pool play.
The Tuckers, who may have even surprised themselves by advancing to the state semifinals for the first time in team history, were perhaps then taken aback by the caliber of competition they faced in Class C. The teams they went up against in pool play — the Falconer Central Falcons, Thomas A. Edison Spartans and Voorheesville Blackbirds — were anything but slouches.
“I’m sure nerves were a factor, no doubt, and the consistency of the play on the other side of the net all day was far beyond anything I thought we were going to face,” Mattituck Coach Frank Massa said. “I didn’t think that all three teams were going to be at the level that they were at. It was kind of like playing John Glenn three times in one day.”
Then again, the Tuckers didn’t really have much to lose.
“I can’t really look at it in a bad way that we lost because we did so much to get here, so it’s not so disappointing,” said outside hitter Jessica Boomer, one of Mattituck’s 10 seniors. “I mean, it would have been great to win, but we did what we could and it’s great just to get here.”
It wasn’t long after Mattituck marched into the Glens Falls Civic Center along with the other Class C and D teams to the playing of Olympic music and the cheers of fans that the Tuckers realized they weren’t on Long Island any more. Their nerves showed in the first game, a 25-8 loss to Voorheesville. In the second game, Voorheesville shot out to an 8-1 lead before Massa called a timeout. Later in the game, with the Tuckers trailing by 20-15, their fans offered encouragement during another timeout by chanting: “Don’t give up! Don’t give up!” Mattituck lost that game, 25-16.
Perhaps the Tuckers were caught up in the thrill of competing in the three-court circus that featured the best teams in the state.
Mattituck played better in its next two games, but lost both of them to Thomas A. Edison, 25-15, 25-22. Although the Tuckers battled, they also came up short against Falconer Central, 25-17, 25-14.
After their final game, the Tuckers received a standing ovation from their fans, who had made the trek upstate to support their team. Among the players, some tears were shed. They were tears of joy mixed with sadness.
“I’m sad primarily because my volleyball career at Mattituck High School has to come to an end, but other than that, I’m so overwhelmingly proud of the team and myself for making it this far and playing so well,” Mattituck senior middle hitter Kim Krupski said. “It was a ridiculously great experience. We never thought we’d get this far. Our goal at the beginning of the season was make playoffs, and now we’re here, and I’m so proud of every single person on this team. We did incredibly, and we got so far. It’s just hard to believe that it’s over for us.”
Mattituck senior outside hitter Lilly McCullough said, “I think we all played pretty hard, and the best thing that we can come away with is that we all put our hearts out on the court.”
Voorheesville, winner of five of its six semifinal games, will face Falconer Central (4-2) for the state title tomorrow. Falconer Central went 4-2 in the semifinal pool.
Meanwhile, the Tuckers can take satisfaction in a magical season that took them further than ever before.
“Everyone is so excited to come here and play volleyball … getting this far,” McCullough said. “It’s great to make history every once in a while.”
During the opening ceremony, Mattituck senior setter Rebecca Mincielli received a sportsmanship award, one of which was presented to a member of each team that reached the semifinals.