It was crunch time as Port Washington found itself trailing one game-to-none to four-time defending Nassau champion Massapequa in the Class A boys volleyball championship at Old Westbury Wednesday afternoon.
"Our main problem has been our mental toughness," senior captain Ben Moy said. "That was what we strengthened the most this season and we really learned how to work together as a team."
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Dropping a tightly contested game one, 26-24, was not enough to throw No. 3 seed Port Washington (13-4) off its game. The Vikings rallied behind Moy and its other captains, Steven Lopez and Kwan Park, to win 24-26, 25-18, 25-21, 25-19 and secure Port Washington's first county title since 1999.
"We've worked all season on our emotional game and being able to stay in it and play in the moment," coach Maria Giamanco said. "The last two weeks we've really paid special attention to that and the boys delivered what they needed to deliver."
The second game was tightly contested throughout until the Vikings ran off an 8-2 run to go ahead 21-15. They never looked back, winning the game 25-18 on a kill by Alec Nadjari.
Game three was more of the same as Port Washington took a quick lead and Massapequa rallied back late in the frame. But again it was Lopez and the Vikings who were able to hold their ground.
Lopez elevated his play in the decisive game, even eliciting a "Steve-n Lo-Pez" chant from his teammates as he helped ignite an 8-2 run that put Port Washington ahead 19-13 after being tied at 11.
"I needed to be aggressive, 100 percent of the time," Lopez said.
Top-seeded Massapequa (15-1) rallied back to within three points at 22-19 but Port Washington ended the Chiefs' momentum on a Matt Shevrin kill. That set up Lopez to finish off the game.
Lopez, who finished the game with 26 kills and three aces, ended the match with a kill before being mobbed by his teammates on the court. Lopez and Park, who had 53 assists, consistently teamed up and made life difficult on the Massapequa defense.
Lopez and Moy were named to the all-tournament team and Park was named the tournament's MVP.
"It feels great, we've worked really hard throughout this process and it was long after losing to them twice in the season," Lopez said. "It was a great win."
Port Washington moves on to the Long Island championship to play the winner of tomorrow's match between Lindenhurst and Sachem East.
"It was time for a change," Lopez said. "They're a great team but it was our time."