If you can’t beat them, well, just roll with it and have fun.
That seemed to be Mattituck’s attitude in pool play Saturday in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association girls volleyball championships.
“Yeah, it would be really cool to win states,” senior setter Lilly Fogarty said, “but we knew kind of coming in a lot of the teams were a little bit stronger than us, had the height, like overpowering, but we started off a little slow and didn’t really live up to our potential, but in the end we were just kind of playing for fun.”
The Tuckers knew what they were up against. They understood the odds were stacked against them, so why not just make the best of it?
Even after dropping all six of their sets in Class C at Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls and failing to advance, Mattituck’s players kept a positive attitude about reaching their seventh state tournament and what they accomplished this season.
“Zero and six, but we’re still fourth in the state, Class C,” said Fogarty.
Mattituck received a rough introduction to the four-team pool, dropping sets to Fonda-Fultonville, 25-12, 25-17. It didn’t get easier after that. Millbrook hammered the Tuckers, 25-8, 25-11. And then Portville closed out its perfect 6-0 run in the afternoon session by beating Mattituck, 25-10, 25-15.
“As I always say, if you’re ending your season at the [state] tournament, then it’s a successful season,” Mattituck coach Frank Massa said. “Things didn’t work out the way we would have liked, then again, the competition is incredibly fierce. We had an opportunity in a couple of sets to try and hold our own. We held our own for most of the sets, but I thought two of the sets we should have been a little more competitive. We actually should have taken one of those sets, but that’s the way it is up here. Things happen fast, they happen quick, and the talent is ridiculous.”
Mattituck has a 1-39 career record in state pool play, the sole win coming in 2015. The Tuckers had lost the first 29 sets they played in pool play before finally holding off Broadalbin Perth that year, 25-23.
Just reaching this grand stage was a major victory for Mattituck, which went 15-2 in matches this season and reached Glens Falls for the second time in four years.
“It’s an accomplishment from like a small school at the end of nowhere,” said junior outside hitter Sage Foster.
Fogarty said, “No one even knows how to pronounce Mattituck, never mind knows where it is.”
Portville advanced to Sunday’s final against Millbrook, which went 4-2 in pool play. Fonda-Fultonville finished third in the group at 2-4.
Mattituck was one of only two Suffolk County teams to qualify for the state tournament. Elwood/John Glenn (5-1) will face Hendrick Hudson (4-2) in the Class B final Sunday.
“It’s a tough tournament,” Massa said, “and a lot of these schools, you know, their high schools are their travel teams, so they play a lot of volleyball up here, and as you can see when you were watching it, there was just incredible talent and every player out there is a very good volleyball player.”
The Tuckers were supported by some of their fans who made the five-hour drive to watch their team play. “They believed in us,” said Foster.
It was the final go-around for five Mattituck seniors — Cassidy Czujko, Mia Khan, Bridget Ryan, Julia Salvador and Fogarty.
“The games were called very tight, so we were a little sloppy with some of our technique,” Massa said. “The girls saw what it’s like to play against high-quality teams, one right after the next, right after the next, and what it takes to do well in a tournament like this, so at least there’s a lot of juniors and sophomores on the team, they’ll have some experience, got to see what it takes to be able to compete and, God willing, we’ll be able to come back here next year and give it a shot.”