Kellenberg's Michael Fulop has been down this road before with his teammates. And that experience made the difference.
Fulop and the Firebirds celebrated back-to-back CHSAA boys volleyball championships after their 25-15, 25-23, 21-25, 30-28 win over St. Francis Prep on Wednesday night at Adelphi.
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"We were going into this saying that we want to start a dynasty," said Fulop, who had 14 service points, 15 kills, six digs, three aces and three solo blocks en route to being named the conference's Player of the Year for the second straight season. "We did it as a family. I don't play as an individual. I play for the team."
Fulop wouldn't have had as many kills in this one without the help of setter Ryan Branigan, who finished with 31 assists, 22 service points, three aces and three kills.
"I'm out there trying to create momentum," Branigan said. "I'm just a playmaker helping with everyone's success."
The Firebirds (17-0) improved to 33-1 over the last two seasons, but it didn't come easily. After helping his team take the first two games, Branigan believed St. Francis Prep put Kellenberg on its "heels" with Sayuj Zachariah's strong play at the net.
Kellenberg coach John Heitner believed at that point his club had gone away from its game plan. "We tried to work the middle a little more, but it didn't work," Heitner said.
"We went back to Michael and that's when things started to go back our way. I couldn't be happier for this group of guys for how they responded. I can't put it into words. It's unbelievable. Something special."
Connor Goss stepped up when it mattered most in Game 4. His kill and subsequent block at the net put the Firebirds back on top 22-21, giving Goss reason to believe Kellenberg could gut it out.
"We knew we had to win it right there because you never want to go to a deciding game," said Goss, who had 11 service points and 10 kills and was named tournament MVP.