Bellmore JFK falls to Victor in state boys volleyball final

Bellmore JFK's Justin Ganca, left, blocks against Victor's Bellmore JFK's Justin Ganca, left, blocks against Victor's Tim Jackson in the Division II final during the 2013 NYSPHSAA Boys Volleyball Championships. (Nov. 15, 2013) Photo Credit: Adrian Kraus

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GLENS FALLS, N.Y. - It was bound to end at some point. Bellmore JFK rode a 43-match winning streak into Glens Falls Civic Center and looked to be the favorite to capture a second consecutive state Class B boys volleyball title.

But an athletic and long Victor team had other ideas.

Bellmore JFK (20-1) won two consecutive do-or-die games against Burnt Hills in pool play to advance to the state final, but came up short against Victor, 25-16, 25-19, 25-19, Friday.

The Cougars defeated Victor in a tightly contested 26-24 game to begin pool play but dropped the second game 27-25. Bellmore JFK then dropped another heartbreaker, 25-23, in their first match up against Burnt Hills.

With their backs up against the wall, Bellmore JFK needed to win its final pool play game against Burnt Hills to force a three-way tie to keep their hopes of a state championship game berth alive.

The Cougars did just that and then beat Burnt Hills again in the tiebreaker to advance.

"It's just the resolve of this team," Bellmore JFK coach Dennis Ringel said. "They've been like this for two years now. They're that type of team and group that they had that in them. It looked like we might have run out of gas at the end -- and Victor was very good -- but I'm very proud of them."

The Cougars seemed out of sync as they began the state final directly after playing the two elimination games.

"Playing those five [games] and then having to play another five-game match was definitely tiring," senior Justin Feigeles said. "The legs hurt, the back hurt, everything, it was just bad."

Bellmore did not play a game that it was in control of until the tiebreaking match against Burnt Hills. They played Victor closely in the beginning of each of the three championship games but were unable to control the net against the larger Blue Devils.

"Height is a factor in volleyball, it just is," Ringel said. "Did it have an effect? Yeah, but we've played so many teams this year that we were smaller than and we try to make up for it with jumping ability, speed, and playing a dynamic offense."

You could see how dynamic the offense was by looking at the stat sheet. Gary Anderson finished the tournament with 42 kills, 58 assists and 28 digs and Feigeles had 63 kills, five blocks and three aces. Both were named to the all-tournament team.

"We just wanted to keep our season going as long as possible and that's what we did," Anderson said. "It just didn't end the way we wanted it to."

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