Next stop: Glens Falls.
The Mattituck girls volleyball team will reach its ultimate destination, Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls for the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championships next weekend. That is where the Tuckers’ season will end, one way or another. The road on this long journey has been largely smooth, but it hit a speed bump Saturday in the second set of the Long Island Class C final against Oyster Bay.
No matter. Mattituck overcame that to triumph in four sets at LIU Post’s Pratt Recreation Center. None of the current Tuckers have ever played in Glens Falls before.
“It means everything in my volleyball world to be able to go,” senior outside hitter Bridget Ryan told reporters. “It’s something I’ve dreamed about.”
That dream is coming true. Ryan said she had a Glens Falls countdown in her head late in the fourth set. “The last few points, all I was thinking is like this many points until we go to Glen Falls, like this many points and then I was like, there’s no way that actually happened,” she said. “It kind of felt like a blur.”
Sage Foster literally jumped for joy after she met a set from Lilly Fogarty with a cannon of a spike at match point for her 31st kill to end it, 25-11, 17-25, 25-18, 25-14. “We’re a really young team, so the fact that we’re going to the states is like, wow!” said Foster.
It marks Mattituck’s seventh Long Island championship and second in four years. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state tournament wasn’t played in 2020.
Mattituck (13-1) had started the match in convincing fashion in the first set when Foster had nine kills.
“Our passing, setting really needed to be very sharp,” Mattituck coach Frank Massa said. “I don’t know if we had more than one or two unforced errors in that first set. Everything was clean. Everything was coming out right.”
Foster said: “When we started that first set, I was like, ‘OK, we got this. We’re good.’ ”
This was going to be smooth sailing, the Tuckers might have thought.
Oyster Bay (7-9) stormed back in the second set, surging to a 7-0 lead with five of those points coming on Kaitlyn Kelly service aces. Streaky setting as well as uncharacteristic service and hitting errors caused Mattituck problems. The Tuckers looked flat-footed and out of sync. Oyster Bay evened things at a set apiece.
“After they took us down the second set, we realized that we can’t take anything for granted, that this game is anybody’s game at this point,” said Ryan.
Massa had warned his players to stay on their toes because Oyster Bay had pulled off a comeback victory over favored East Rockaway in the Nassau County final.
“And, of course, my words fall on deaf ears and it’s 8-nothing [actually 7-0] before we’re out of the box,” he said. “And it took us probably until the three-quarter point of the third set before we got back to what we were doing. From that point on, we started passing better. We cut the unforced errors down. I would venture to guess that we had more unforced errors in the second set than we had in the other three combined.”
Mattituck recovered with Foster’s fierce blasts and excellent placement shots by Ryan. The Tuckers closed the third set on a 10-3 run, six of those points coming on Foster kills.
In the fourth set, Mattituck fell behind, 8-3, but pulled it together with a 12-0 run that featured five Foster kills, strong serving by Ryan and a Sofia Knudsen block that made it 21-12 Mattituck. Two late kills by Foster closed it out.
“We just persevered,” said Knudsen.
Ryan had nine kills and five aces from 32-for-34 serving. Fogarty collected 22 assists and Emma McGunnigle had 21 assists.
Oyster Bay received 18 assists from Taylor Hall, 11 kills from Katherine Jennette and eight kills and seven aces from Kelly.
As a team, Mattituck put away 48 kills to Oyster Bay’s 24 and had more than twice as many assists, 50-21.
“One of the things I told the girls is the same thing I kept on telling myself — this is gonna happen today,” Massa said. “It may not happen again, so try to enjoy it as much as you can. I’m trying not to look forward to more things. I’m just trying to enjoy this moment and I’m pretty sure the girls enjoyed it. I know I did.”
Glens Falls, here they come.