Over a decade had passed since Long Beach last claimed a county title, but during a moment earlier this season, Dominick Cieleski said head coach Bill Gibson told his team they had what it took to win another.
On Friday night, Cieleski and company proved Gibson right.
“Coach sat us down and told us he had us at a higher expectation than any other team,” Cieleski said after No. 1 Long Beach defeated No. 2 Bethpage, 25-18, 25-20, 25-21 in the Nassau Class B boys volleyball final at Farmingdale State.
Long Beach (17-4), which last won a county title in 2008, will return to Farmingdale State to face Westhampton in the Division II Long Island championship on Tuesday at 6 p.m.
Bethpage (13-6) built a lead in the early going of the third set thanks in part to strong net play by Brian O’Boyle. The momentum appeared to temporarily shift in the Golden Eagles’ favor after moving ahead 13-9.
But the Marines buckled down from that point forward and proceeded to take the lead, 16-15, following three consecutive points from Evan Michaels. Long Beach continued to ride its wave of success the rest of the way behind a strong performance from Brian Corrigan, and closed out to win the county title with a 25-21 win.
“I’m super excited,” outside hitter Corrigan said. “We all knew we were gonna be here. We set our sights bigger. We kept working hard and we had great coaching along the way.”
The Marines took control of the match with a 25-20 victory in the second set. Leading 20-18, Long Beach ripped four consecutive points, capped off by a block by Cieleski to go ahead 24-18. Though Bethpage responded with two points, the ensuing serve soared into the net and clinched Long Beach both the set and a commanding 2-0 advantage.
A blazing start gave Long Beach an early 13-7 lead in the opening set. Leading 23-18 following Jimmy Joyce’s kill, Cieleski closed out the first game with a powerful kill and an emphatic block to give the Marines a 1-0 advantage.
“This team was just willing to work every day,” Gibson said. “They kept improving every week and not getting too bogged down with anything. We had setbacks and injuries early in the season.
“But they didn’t let anything affect them and our goal, which was just to get to the final. But for this group, the goal became winning counties and going as far as we can.”