After watching Aaron Williams encounter some early struggles on Tuesday night, Liam Lind knew exactly what his Roslyn boys volleyball teammate needed to hear in the moment.
"I told him, ‘Aaron, you are the best front row player in this gym and I need you to show that to everyone,’ " Lind said. "And he did it."
Williams immediately took Lind’s words to heart and they undoubtedly paid off, as he delivered 14 kills and six blocks in No. 2 Roslyn’s dramatic 16-25, 26-24, 25-19, 24-26, 15-8 victory over No. 1 Calhoun, the defending champion, in the Nassau Division II final at LIU Post.
"I never thought I would be here," Williams said of winning the county title. "I’m so proud of this entire team. This means everything to me. I’ve dreamed of this since the first day I picked up a volleyball. I’m so proud and thankful for everyone that’s been by my side."
Roslyn (11-5) advances to the Long Island Division II championship/Southeast regional final against Eastport-South Manor at 9 a.m. on Thursday at Longwood.
Lind, who added four kills, said the key to victory was both leaning on each other throughout and dictating the style of play.
"We just had to keep our heads up when we were down and pick each other up," Lind said. "Just play our game and make them play the game how we wanted to play it, and that’s what we did."
One point away from having their season end in the fourth set, Calhoun (11-5) completed a furious comeback to tie the score at 24 before clinching a 26-24 victory to force the winner-take-all set and send its crowd into an absolute frenzy.
As the Bulldogs prepared for the final game, coach Tuan Nguyen described the message he gave his players following the drastic shift in momentum.
"They just had to calm down and believe in themselves," Nguyen said. "Just stay cool and don’t let them get to you. And they just played their hearts out in the last set."
Remembering that Calhoun ended Roslyn’s season last spring in the semifinals, Williams said the Bulldogs were longing for another opportunity to face the Colts in the postseason.
"We talked about it a lot," Williams said. "We had to get our mindset right, stay focused, figure out our strategy, look over plays, whatever we had to do to get the win."