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Top Sports Stories 2018: Tuckers have a (volley)ball in Glens Falls

Perhaps few words are likely to prompt a smile from coach Frank Massa or the players on his Mattituck High School girls volleyball team like “Glens Falls.”

As in Glens Falls, N.Y., site of the NYSPHSAA Championships.

Mattituck reached the state Class C semifinal pool in Glens Falls for the sixth time — and first time since 2015. But the results were pretty much the same as in Mattituck’s five other trips. The Tuckers went 0-6 in semifinal pool play, were outscored by 150-107, and finished last in their group. Mattituck’s career record in state semifinal sets is 1-35, the sole win came in the final set it played in 2015.

Mattituck, which raised its record to 16-2 with its victory over East Rockaway for its sixth Long Island title, knew the competition at Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls would be tough. Still, none of the Tuckers had played in the state semifinals before.

“You can’t describe what they’re going to run into,” said Massa, who completed his 32nd year as Mattituck’s coach. “They have to see it for themselves. There’s no way I can describe Portville to them. We played no team this year — and we played some very good teams — that matches that type of competition that we were up against.”

Massa said Mattituck may have played its best set ever at that stage in a 25-22 loss to Portville. The Tuckers also flirted with victory in both of their sets against Voorheesville.

“We did everything that we could have done,” said Mattituck middle hitter Jillian Gaffga.

It wasn’t a bad farewell for Mattituck’s seven seniors: Gabrielle Dwyer, Rachel Janis, Emily McKillop, Mikayla Osmer, Bayleigh Rienecker, Kathryn Thompson and Gaffga.

They were all part of a team, led by junior outside hitter Viki Harkin, that won its first league championship in 14 years. Mattituck, competing in the playoffs for a 16th consecutive year, prevailed over Pierson/Bridgehampton in a five-setter in the county final. It was Mattituck’s sixth county title in nine years and seventh in 16 years.

The caliber of competition in the state tournament is like nothing else high school players see. Just reaching Glens Falls is an achievement in itself.

Said Massa, “If the season ends in Glens Falls, then you can’t say it was anything but a success, and here we are.”

Photo caption: The Tuckers celebrate their Long Island championship. (Credit: Garret Meade)

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