Karma dictated that a senior would clinch the championship for St. Anthony's boys volleyball. And it made perfect sense that Joseph Groneman, the conference MVP and one of six seniors on the Friars' roster, would be that man.
Groneman's kill along the left sideline ended things as No. 1 St. Anthony's defeated No. 3 Kellenberg, 18-25, 26-24, 25-18, 25-16, to win its fourth consecutive NSCHSAA title Wednesday night at Hofstra.
Before the seniors arrived, the program had not won a conference title since 1992.
"Four straight is just unreal because when we came in freshman year, the team was good but hadn't won in a while," said Groneman, who had 10 kills and 15 digs. "All of us just came together as a cohesive group."
After dropping the first set, the Friars had a 21-13 lead in the second, but Kellenberg (10-8) responded with six consecutive points. With the score tied at 24, St. Anthony's took advantage of a net violation and a sideout to escape the set and even the match.
"That was the momentum-changer," said tournament MVP Andrew Melon, who had 19 kills and 11 digs. "If they had gotten that, they would've needed one more set to win. And they would have fought that much harder. But we changed the momentum and turned it around."
St. Anthony's (16-1) built an early advantage in the third and pulled away on consecutive blocks from Michael Chave and Matt Waring that made it 21-15. An emphatic kill from Melon ended the set, as the Friars avoided another near-comeback bid from Kellenberg.