Calhoun boys volleyball players celebrate after their 3-0 win over...

Calhoun boys volleyball players celebrate after their 3-0 win over Roslyn in the Nassau County Division II final at Farmingdale State College on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. Credit: James Escher

There was a measure of redemption as the Calhoun boys volleyball team walked out of Farmingdale State on Tuesday night. It was barely a year ago — at another local Long Island College, LIU — when their heads hung low on the ride back to Merrick. They had just lost the county championship to Roslyn and things were grim.

This year — the tables were turned and the Colts couldn’t have been happier about it. New year’s spring new results and this year the result — a 3-0 win over those same Roslyn Bulldogs in the Nassau Division II title match was a welcome development.

The 25-22, 25-19, 25-20 win — which featured moments of dominance and long stretches of control — sent Calhoun (13-4) to a Long Island Division II championship matchup with Hauppauge at 9 p.m. Thursday at Farmingdale State.

“Our team last year was a lot of juniors and a couple seniors,” said Sean DiPaola, who had 10 kills in the win. “We had a chip on our shoulders this year that we were going to win that for (those seniors).”  

Brian Sanchez led the Colts with 23 digs. Tommy Bello had 20 kills and five blocks and Ryan Pucella had six digs and 26 assists.

Calhoun fought off a late Roslyn rally to win Game 1, 25-22. Roslyn scored six of the final nine points, cutting a 22-16 lead to 23-21. A kill from DiPaola pushed the Colts lead to 24-21 and, after Roslyn got a point, Matthew Kalfas’ kill ended the opening set.

While momentum takes many forms, it certainly switched in an instant during the second set. An illegal substitution by Roslyn, that wasn’t caught right away, resulted in a lengthy delay that not only allowed Calhoun to regroup, but sent them into the lead.

After a scorers conversation to sort out the mistake, it was determined that the substitution penalty would cost Roslyn six points, turning a 14-12 Bulldogs lead into a 12-8 deficit. Calhoun went on to score 13 of the next 24 points to wrap up the 25-19 win and put themselves in the driver’s seat for the third and, eventually, deciding set

“It shifted our momentum,” Bello said. “We felt like, after them giving us those points, that we had to finish the job and win it.”

DiPaola added: “It didn’t really change our mindset. We were down in that set. We get points back and we’re up. But, to me, it’s still 0-0.”

But, the job wasn’t finished and Calhoun knew the importance of wrapping up the third set and eliminating any sliver of a Roslyn comeback. After finding themselves down 15-12, Calhoun fought back to tie the score at 18. Bello and DiPaola then combined for a block that gave the Colts the lead for good.

“We didn’t want to give them any breathing room,” Bello said. “We just wanted to finish the job.”

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