Girls Volleyball: First state tourney win still eludes Mattituck

JIM ELLIS PHOTO | Mattituck's senior setter, Laurel Bertolas, right, has company at the net during one of her team's games against Millbrook in the NYSPHSAA Championships at Glens Falls Civic Center.
JIM ELLIS PHOTO | Mattituck’s senior setter, Laurel Bertolas, right, has company at the net during one of her team’s games against Millbrook in the NYSPHSAA Championships at Glens Falls Civic Center.


High school girls volleyball teams don’t reach the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championships by accident. To make it to Glens Falls, they have to be good. Real good.

Unless one saw the caliber of competition that Mattituck faced Saturday in the Class C pool, it would be hard to appreciate what the Tuckers were up against. Eden. Millbrook. Voorheesville. One was tougher than the next.

To put it in perspective, consider this: Voorheesville was 20-0 going into the state tournament. That sparkling record was ancient history by the time the Blackbirds were defeated in their first four games on Saturday.

Yes, Eden and Millbrook are that good.

Mattituck knew it faced a tough schedule of round-robin games at the Glens Falls Civic Center. The Tuckers knew it wasn’t going to be easy, and it wasn’t.

Mattituck’s fourth loss of the day, and second to Millbrook, eliminated the Tuckers from contention for tomorrow’s final. By the time Mattituck took the court for its first game against Voorheesville, both teams were 0-4 and fighting for third place in the four-team group. Eden and Millbrook had already secured the places in the final. As if to show it meant business, Eden won all six of its games, including an impressive 25-15, 25-8 sweep of Millbrook.

The Tuckers, making their third appearance in the state tournament in four years, have never won a game in the competition, and try as they did, they really didn’t come close on Saturday. They lost all six of their games — an 8-pointer being the closest — yet could still head home feeling good about having it made it this far in the first place. The Tuckers have an 0-18 career record in state tournament games.

Right off the bat, Mattituck had a tough challenge against Eden. It could be argued that Eden has the most successful girls volleyball program in New York State. Eden has won 14 successive sectional titles, four straight state championships, six in the last seven years, and a record 10 state titles. The Raiders had a 33-5-1 record (including tournaments) before they reached Glens Falls. It’s a remarkable record.

Mattituck’s first two games were humbling. Eden breezed, 25-4 and 25-11, as Heather Holscher, Kaley Ballou and Meghan Ballou put away 5 kills apiece. Lainy Pierce provided the Raiders with 16 assists, 4 service aces and 1 dink.

The first game was so rough for the Tuckers that they served only five times, and Eden’s Kaley Ballou didn’t get to serve once.

After falling behind in the second game by 9-2 and then 14-4, Mattituck strung together 5 straight points, prompting Eden coach Stephen Pierce to call timeout.

Do you believe in miracles?

Not this time. Eden immediately returned to form after the timeout. Samantha Burgio served strong down the stretch, registering 5 aces among the final 9 points her team ran off.

Eden served 45 for 49 in the two games; Mattituck went 14 for 16.

Eden went on to take two games from Voorheesville, 25-11 and 25-13, to secure a place in tomorrow’s final.

Millbrook secured the other spot in the final by eliminating Mattituck from contention. The Blazers won, 25-10 and 25-12, as their serving gave Mattituck trouble. Millbrook served for 14 aces to Mattituck’s 2.

Audrey Ouimet knocked down 5 kills and Meredith Dignan added 9 assists for Millbrook in the two games. Brittany Keenan went 12 for 12 serving, with 5 aces.

Shannon Dwyer had 3 kills and 1 block for Mattituck.

Dwyer and fellow senior Laurel Bertolas are the only two remaining players from Mattituck’s 2011 team that played in the NYSPHSAA Championships.

Voorheesville served for 15 aces and had only 1 service error to finish the Tuckers’ day, 25-15 and 25-5.

Libby Bjork (14 assists, 4 aces, 1 kill) paced Voorheesville, which also received 7 kills each from Caroline Bablin and Tori Hargrave.

The Tuckers’ numbers for the day said as much about the high caliber of competition they faced as anything else. Mattituck’s three opponents outscored them in six games, 150-59. In addition, the opponents held 50-13 advantages in both kills and assists. They totaled 43 aces against Mattituck, which mustered only 3.

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