The big question for the Mattituck High School girls volleyball team as it headed into the state tournament on Saturday wasn’t whether the Tuckers would advance to the final. No, the question regarding the Tuckers was a much more modest one: Would they win a state semifinal pool game for the first time in their history?
This is the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championships, and wins do not come easily. For the Tuckers, they haven’t come at all.
The Tuckers have had success in reaching the state tournament, something they have done four times in five years. State semifinal wins, on the other, are another matter. The Tuckers haven’t been able to clear that hurdle yet.
In their latest attempt, the Tuckers lost all six Class C semifinal pool games they played Saturday, leaving them with an 0-24 all-time record in such contests.
The scores of the first two games at Glens Falls Civic Center gave a hint as to what kind of a day it was going to be for Mattituck. The scores were 25-3 and 25-6 — not in Mattituck’s favor.
Welcome to Glens Falls.
The Tuckers had a rough start to the tournament, perhaps one of the roughest imaginable against a talented Broadalbin Perth team making its first appearance on the state stage. The Patriots, who were 19-2 going into the tournament, surely didn’t play like a team that had not been to the state championships before. After Julia Orlando served the first ball, the Tuckers didn’t serve again until Lisa Angel’s turn came up, and the Tuckers were already down, 13-0, by then.
Broadalbin Perth breezed in both games and didn’t even go through its full rotation once. Only four Patriots served in the first game. The Tuckers took only four serves in the game and only six in the second, remarkably low numbers.
Broadalbin Perth finished the second game on a 14-1 run that included four straight aces by Zoe Simonson.
With setter Gabby Smith feeding 17 assists into the offense, Broadalbin Perth thumped the Tuckers, 20-1, in kills, 7 of them coming from Chelsea LeBlanc. Ten service aces didn’t hurt Broadalbin Perth’s cause, either.
And then, almost incredibly, there was hope. Real hope.
The Tuckers had a genuine opportunity to make team history. They twice had that elusive first win in their hands against Spackenkill, only to see it slip away both times.
The Tuckers led by 18-15 in its first game against Spackenkill and by 18-16 in the second game, but the Spartans came back each time to win, 25-19, 25-19. A 10-1 run closed the first game and a 9-1 run capped the second game.
Lindsey Ackert had 12 assists and Nur Sher put down 8 kills for the Spartans, who were aided by strong serving down the stretch in both games by Anilee Sher.
And then there was powerhouse Eden, one of the most successful programs in the state. Eden, which was 31-5-4 (including tournaments and pool play) entering the tournament, has won 15 successive sectional titles, five straight state championships, seven in the last eight years, and a record 11 state titles.
A Mattituck win against Eden was, ahem, a longshot, to put it mildly. Eden, a virtual hitting machine, slammed down 23 kills, including 10 by Sam Burgio, to triumph, 25-6 and 25-14. For the record, Mattituck held early leads in the second game, an achievement in itself.
Eden swept its six games and will play Broadalbin Perth (4-2 in pool play) in Sunday’s final.
Mattituck’s most dangerous offensive weapon, Emilie Reimer, totaled 11 kills, 4 blocks and 3 assists in the six games.
Mattituck, the third team to march into the arena at the playing of Olympic-themed music during the opening ceremony, was greeted by cheers from a healthy turnout of its fans, who wore gold T-shirts in support of the Long Island champions. “ROAD TO STATES … 2014” read the back of the shirts.
A player from each team was recognized with a sportsmanship award during the opening ceremony. Mattituck’s award winner was junior middle hitter Caroline Keil.