No team has come together like Long Beach boys volleyball. Just being able to play the game was a triumph of sorts, but the Marines took it one step further, beating Great Neck North to advance to the Nassau quarterfinals.
"Just to play an actual sport is fun," said Tyquan Scott, who has been living at a shelter at Nassau Community College with his parents and seven siblings since Oct. 28. "It means a lot to win, we want to do this for our town."
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Members of the team traveled from across the state and along the East Coast, displaced since last week because of superstorm Sandy, to reunite Friday and play their opening-round Nassau class B playoff game.
And without a gym to host the match, or for some, homes to go back to when it was over, the shorthanded seventh-seeded Marines scored a 25-20, 25-23, 25-21 victory at Herricks. Only nine varsity and two junior varsity Long Beach players were able to attend the match, with some members of the varsity team still dispersed throughout the country from North Carolina to Massachusetts. Co-captain Scott Blumenfeld, who brought his teammates together over the last few days to avoid a Long Beach forfeit, arrived back on Long Island around 2 a.m. Friday, coming from D.C., where he had been staying with his older brother.
"When I was sitting on the train, I was thinking, 'I don't know where I'm sleeping tonight, I have to make arrangements, so this better be worth it,' " Blumenfeld said. "And it was."
The Marines, who warmed up in street clothes and played the match wearing a mixture of Long Beach volleyball and soccer uniforms, started slow in the first game but pulled away on an 11-6 run after it was tied at 14. In the second, two emphatic kills by the 6-5 Scott sparked a 5-2 run to close it. Josh Ayzenberg's spike sealed the win in the third, inviting a standing ovation from the crowd of family and friends.
Scott had 11 kills and 10 blocks, libero Bryan Snow had 13 digs and Ayzenberg nine kills and three aces. Great Neck North concluded its season with a 15-2 record.
Long Beach (6-11) faces No. 2 Roslyn in the quarterfinals Saturday. At least for one night, the Marines were able to escape their hardships and enjoy the camaraderie of friends and teammates.
"This game means everything to us," Snow said. "We lost everything, we lost our gym, we haven't practiced in two weeks, and we pulled out a win. It'd be nice to win again ."