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SportsHigh SchoolVolleyball

East Rockaway falls one win shy of advancing to state final

East Rockaway girls volleyball went 2-4 in the state Class C semifinals, falling one win shy of advancing to the state final, at Glens Falls Civic Center, on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016. (Newsday/Owen O'Brien)

GLENS FALLS, N.Y. — No lead is safe when facing East Rockaway girls volleyball. Which should come as no surprise being the Rocks are a team that fought all the way from a one-win 2015 to the 2016 state Class C semifinals at Glens Falls Civic Center.

The Rocks (11-7) finished 2-4 in pool play, falling one win shy of advancing to today’s state championship. But even in its two wins, East Rockaway showed resiliency, defeating Galway, 26-20 after trailing 16-20 and beating Pawling, 25-21, by scoring eight of the final nine points and trailing by five points four times.

“We just have the heart for it,” junior Melissa Loyer said, “and we always strive to bring back what we’ve lost.”

Loyer rallied East Rockaway in its win over Galway, as she served for the final three points with her older sister, Jessica, recording the final kill.

“I felt like I just had to do it for the team,” Melissa said. “I just had to keep pushing. Every point matters.”

And then like older siblings always try to do, Jessica went and one-upped Melissa, rattling off six straight serves over the net in East Rockaway’s 25-21 win over Pawling.

“Those things usually make people nervous,” Jessica said. “I’m just like ‘I need to do this. I just have to do it. I have to get the serve over. I got this.’ I just had to get it over and in and trust my team to get the points.”

That would be East Rockaway’s final win in pool play as it lost to Galway (25-19), Pawling (25-21) and Eden (25-8, 25-7). But still, the trip upstate made this a season none of the East Rockaway players will ever forget.

“This has been the best experience,” Diana Locoteta said. “I’m so happy to have been able to do this my senior year, it’s just the best. I wouldn’t have asked for anything more.”

Seniors like Jessica Loyer, Kiera Popp, Demi Lonergan, Skylar Masterson, Amanda Barbaro, Corinne Haab, Michelle Sheridan and Locoteta did their jobs transforming the program. Coach Ksenia Brito even invited the middle school players to the state tournament saying, “So now for the next six years, these girls are going to know what it’s like to be here and now it’s a goal.”

A goal all made possible by a previous 1-11 squad. A team that refused to be defined by that record

“When I look at my other teammates, I know we’re all in this together and we’re such a family,” Locoteta said. “We’re sisters. We fight for each other until the last point.”

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