Compared to what Mary McDonagh and her Long Beach teammates went through last season, this was nothing.
"We're a strong team because we've been through a hurricane together," she said. "So we can do anything together."
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Superstorm Sandy derailed the Marines' title hopes last season. With many players and the coach displaced and the school destroyed, the team couldn't practice and ultimately fell in the semifinals.
Now they had a second chance and sat one point away from the program's first county title during the fourth set of Thursday night's match, only to see South Side make a comeback and force a fifth game. The perseverance that they showed last fall appeared again as they controlled the final game to win the Nassau Class A title with a 25-9, 18-25, 25-15, 26-28, 25-19 win over No. 3 South Side at SUNY-Old Westbury.
"That's the resilience they've showed since Sandy," Long Beach coach Kerri Rehnback said. "Losing Game 4 in that fashion and staying in control of Game 5 and coming out on top. They persevere through anything."
Long Beach took control midway through the final game after an ace by Justine Smith capped a five-point run for an 18-12 advantage.
South Side trailed 24-21 in Game 4 before kills by Kayla Principato and Sarah Mullooly and a key block by Sydney Gabriel ignited a comeback.
Long Beach advances to the Long Island championship against Kings Park 4 p.m. Saturday at St. Joseph's.
"Knowing that we did something that has never been done before is amazing," Dakota O'Neill said. "It's the best feeling times 10."