Suddenly realizing that his final block had indeed landed just inside the left line, Jake DesLauriers raised his fist to the air and was immediately mobbed by his teammates.
At last, his team had finished off the job they set out on following the conclusion of last season. And the long-awaited celebration was on.
DesLauriers had 17 kills, 17 digs, three blocks and two assists to lead the way as Eastport-South Manor defeated Spencerport, 25-22, 25-22, 25-22, to win the Division II boys volleyball state championship at Albany Capital Center on Saturday afternoon.
The Sharks completed an undefeated season, finishing (18-0) and dropping only one set in the process — during the opener against Sachem North.
"I’m just so overly excited," DesLauriers said moments after Eastport earned its first state title since 2016 and second in program history. "This is a thrilling moment and not many people get to do this.
"This has been our goal since the beginning of the year. The fact that it’s happening feels so unreal. It feels like a dream right now."
Although Spencerport (Section V) remained within striking distance throughout each set, Eastport ultimately found a way to prevail each time. The Sharks led 24-22 in all three sets, but refused to allow Spencerport to get any closer.
Eastport coach Bill Kropp said his team continued to set the bar even higher throughout the season.
"This team came to Albany to play and finish the job," Kropp said. "That’s the best we’ve played. You always want your team to play their best at the end and that’s exactly what they did."
At the helm for Eastport the last four years and having coached for 40 overall, Kropp became emotional reflecting on how far his team had come.
"This is the most emotional win I’ve had," Kropp said. "That’s from college, to high school, club. The journey that this team and I took has been really special."
Mark Porcelli, who added 13 kills, 13 digs and one block, also added plenty of perspective as he soaked in the moment.
"This means a lot," Porcelli said. "Not a lot of people get to do this. We’ve had the privilege and we got it done and made history."
Porcelli said that the Sharks, on the biggest stage, displayed their complete talent by executing on both sides of the ball.
"I think we played defense really well," Porcelli said. "I think we showed that we wanted it more and hustled more. We played better defense and had some good blocks."
DesLauriers, who, along with his teammates, waited for this moment going back to last season’s conclusion, loved the feeling of finally wearing that state championship medal.
"It’s kind of heavy, I’m not going to lie," DesLauriers said with a laugh. "But it’s amazing. I can’t believe this is happening right now."
Shanley, Smithtown West fall to Penfield in Division I final
Though his final game may not have gone the way he anticipated, Smithtown West premier outside hitter Dan Shanley acknowledged that the last five years were filled with collective experiences he could never forget.
Shanley was the focal point yet again on Saturday afternoon, but the Bulls fell just short to Penfield, 22-25, 25-22, 23-25, 20-25, in the Division I boys volleyball championship at Albany Capital Center.
"I’m never going to forget this program," Shanley said. "I’m never going to forget this experience as a whole. I’m going to miss my teammates and coaches the most. I’m going to miss everything they taught me and everything I’ve been through with them. I ride or die with those guys."
Smithtown West (13-5) competed closely throughout the day, but was unable to overcome late surges by Penfield, as well as a strong comeback in the opening set. Leading 19-15, the Bulls were outscored 10-3 the rest of the way. They bounced back to even the score in the second set, but Penfield (Section V) held them off in the final stages of the last two.
Smithtown West coach Michael Legge said Shanley’s impact on the program over the years cannot go understated.
"His legacy and what he means to the program, it’s going to extend beyond this year and next," Legge said. "We talk about culture a lot, we wear it on our sleeve and he’s one of the main reasons why we have this winning culture and hopefully we can maintain it."
Shanley said that although his team finished just short of their goal, they have every reason to reflect upon their season with optimism.
"It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t reach the top," Shanley said. "But we’re right there. We’re the second best team in the state and I think that’s something to be super proud of. We set that goal at the beginning of the season and to be a hair away from it, it’s tough but I’m going to look back at this and smile. I’m not going to hang my head."