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Half Hollow Hills defeats Massapequa to advance to state tournament

The Half Hollow Hills boys volleyball team entered the Longwood gym at 10:38 a.m., midway through the second set of the Eastport/South Manor-Bellmore JFK match.

They wore matching black shirts, pants, shoes and red ties, looking as if they were entering a Johnny Cash look-alike contest rather than a Long Island championship.

And when it was all said and done, to paraphrase the late Mr. Cash, Suffolk champ Half Hollow Hills felt the rhythm while Nassau champ Massapequa sang the blues.

Chris Kaimis had 10 kills, Cody Lau had 20 digs and Remy Janco added 40 assists to lead the Thundercolts (18-0) to 25-18, 25-20, 25-19 win over the Chiefs (13-2) in the Division I Long Island finals.

Half Hollow Hills advances to pool play in Saturday's Division I state tournament at Cicero-North Syracuse High School.

After an undefeated run that has brought them to this point, Half Hollow Hills is content to play another day.

"This is unbelievable," Lau said. "We got it done, we're going to states and everybody is ecstatic about that."

The Chiefs made a brief run in the second set, cutting a 15-10 deficit to 22-20. But the Thundercolts fired back, scoring the final three points to take a 2-0 lead.

Throughout the match, Hills responded whenever Massapequa threatened.

"We're at the stage of competition, where if you give another team an opening, they will take advantage of it," Kaimis said. "We did a better job this match of staying focused."

Kaimis and company proved that a focused Hills squad is mighty difficult to dethrone. After dropping a set in both the Suffolk semis and finals, they never relented in toppling Nassau's top team.

"We just made a couple of mistakes and maybe had a little bit of nerves being here for the first time," Chiefs coach Steve Mariano said.

Those early mistakes sunk Massapequa, while Hills found its stride early on.

"We just came out there with more energy than they did," Mike DeGrazia, who had 14 kills, said. "We have to go up to Syracuse with that same energy."

And no doubt, the Men in Black will make another grand entrance.

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