Glenn volleyball titles 'never get old'
Winning state titles and Long Island championships have become tradition for Glenn girls volleyball.
But after winning their fifth state title in nine years last season, the Spiders graduated five starters, and had to rely on a new cluster of players if they wanted to repeat.
So it's a good thing tradition never graduates.
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Glenn beat Skaneateles, 25-13, 25-13, 25-15, in the state Class B championship match in Glens Falls on Nov. 18 to clinch the team's sixth state championship in 10 seasons. Glenn won state titles from 2003-05, 2007 and 2011.
"It never gets old," coach Kevin Harrington said. "We graduated five starters from last year's team . . . and it's a testament to all the kids I have on this team."
"We're so excited and it's so great to have back-to-back state championships," senior outside hitter Sam Czeczotka said after the state final. "It's an amazing feeling."
In the six-match semifinal pool play, Glenn went 4-2, clinching a spot in the title match after going 4-1 through its first five matches. In the final, Glenn dominated Skaneateles, pulling away midway through each of the three games to secure an easy victory.
The Spiders completed a perfect season on Long Island -- going 15-0 -- beating Seaford for their 12th consecutive Long Island Class B crown, 25-16, 25-12, 25-11. Earlier, they beat East Hampton in the Suffolk Class B final, 25-14, 25-15, 25-15.
Glenn swept each of its league matches in mostly one-sided affairs, and also won a number of non-league tournaments, including the Lindenhurst Invitational, in which Glenn beat Nassau AA champ Massapequa in the final.
"I'm so proud of everything we all accomplished together," senior co-captain Jackie Malusa said. "We had so many hard practices and I'm really happy it all paid off."
A key to the Spiders' success this season was getting the most out of its current seniors, who all played bigger roles on this year's team.
Malusa, a three-year varsity middle, was named MVP of the state tournament, finishing with 44 kills, 25 digs, six blocks and five aces, including 19 kills, 13 digs and a block in the final. Malusa had to adjust to becoming Glenn's go-to hitter, and also had to improve her defense, playing in the back row for the first time.
"She stepped in and did everything that we needed her to do this year," Harrington said.
Setter Stephanie Caputo was a co-captain with Malusa, and Czeczotka and libero Kasey Muchnicki were also essential leaders.
"[Czeczotka] was the emotional leader of the team and [Muchnicki], in my mind, is the reason we're able to do anything," Harrington said. "[Muchnicki] is our best serve receiver, our best defender, and what we don't stop at the net, she's usually there to make a play on. [Czeczotka] and [Muchnicki] lead in different ways, but all four of them do a tremendous job."
But Glenn also got contributions from its younger players, and like their senior leaders did this season, they too will be expected to play championship-caliber volleyball next year, as is Spiders tradition.
"There's definitely pressure with what we've done here in the past," sophomore middle Simisola Familusi said after her first varsity season. "It was hard. It was a fight all the way through and we came out on top."