2011 Top Sports Story No. 2: Tuckers make return trip to Glens Falls

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Mattituck had a lot to cheer about, qualifying for the state semifinal pool for the second year in a row.

For a high school girls volleyball team in New York, any season that ends in Glens Falls can’t be a bad one.

And that is where Mattituck finished up for the second straight year, in the Glens Falls Civic Center for the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championships.

As they did in 2010, when they qualified for the state semifinals for the first time, the Tuckers went winless in their six games in the state semifinal pool, but they did make an impact on the tournament, nonetheless. They came awfully close to their first state semifinal win in their last game against Voorheesville.

The Blackbirds needed to win in order to tie Rhinebeck for second place and have a chance to reach the finals. But the Tuckers had motivation of their own: making the final game in the careers of their five seniors a memorable one.

“We had our spirits up,” one of those seniors, libero Jackie Hinrichs, said. “We wanted to win so badly.”

The Tuckers, who never held a lead in their previous five games, shot out to a 3-0 start, perhaps catching defending state champion Voorheesville by surprise. They led by as many as six points when a Claire Finnican kill made it 8-2. While the prospect of an historic win teased the Tuckers, Voorheesville surged ahead, finishing the game on a 10-2 run. The final score was 26-24.

“Even though I’m crying my eyes out, it’s O.K. because we proved ourselves to be a good team,” said Finnican, a senior middle hitter.

Coach Frank Massa’s Tuckers, who went 12-0 on their run to Glens Falls, made a statement just by advancing to the state semifinals. After all, 10 players from the 2010 team had graduated.

Hinrichs said the team heard from naysayers, “so that put a lot in our heads, but making it up here meant so much to everyone. This is an experience that I’ll never forget.”

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