Gabby Darnaby leaped, unleashed a fierce swing and celebrated as soon as her feet touched the ground.
That match clincher was her 21st kill in No. 10 Newfield's 3-0 win over No. 7 Sachem East Monday in the first round of the Suffolk Class AA playoffs.
Sachem East (8-5), led by Molly Jandris and Stephanie Procopiou, fought admirably, producing set scores of 22, 20 and 22, respectively.
The host Flaming Arrows' faithful were in full force, often drowning out the officials' whistles. But that brought out the best in the Wolverines.
" definitely made us more energized and brought us up,'' said Darnaby, who also had eight digs, three blocks and an ace. "We feed off that energy.''
Coach Christy Innes added: "Any truly competitive team wants the crowd to be loud.''
Innes exhaled when asked about what it was like to win in such an exciting atmosphere. She admitted Newfield's play wasn't perfect, but she praised Darnaby for being a sparkplug and rallying her team.
"She's a fireball,'' Innes said. "She can start anybody up.''
Innes wasn't kidding. Darnaby celebrated every point at the net with her teammates, revving them up for the next service.
Naomi Ruffalo-Roman responded well to the energy boosts, recording 20 assists, 13 digs and nine kills. She said all she wanted was to put her teammates in position to succeed.
"My goal was to make my sets as good as possible so [our hitters] could get good swings on it,'' she said.
Ruffalo-Roman was the No. 2 option for Newfield when Darnaby was defended or used as a decoy, and it was her play on defense that was crucial in ending several Sachem East rallies.
But when Sachem East was rolling, the Wolverines (11-4) ultimately turned to Darnaby.
She ended each set with a kill, a fist pump and a smile.