The Lindenhurst boys volleyball team learned what it means to pick up a fallen teammate while dealing with the aftermath of superstorm Sandy. The group sacrificed practice time just before the Suffolk Division I playoffs to help restore the homes of those on the team hit hardest by the storm.
The team learned that lesson again in Sunday's county title match against Sachem East.
In the opening game, co-captain Ryan McDonough left the match with an ankle injury. The Bulldogs held on to take an early lead, but they lost the next two games and found themselves on the brink of being beaten.
Then outside hitter Michael Comens took on the load, carrying Lindenhurst to its second straight Suffolk championship.
Comens, a senior co-captain, had a career-high 38 kills as top-seeded Lindenhurst (15-2) rallied for a 25-19, 22-25, 23-25, 25-20, 25-21 victory over No. 2 Sachem East (13-4).
"[McDonough] is essential to our team so we had to change the game plan . . . and we went more to an outside game and [Comens] just took control and was unstoppable," Lindenhurst coach Kevin Muscarello said. "This team showed a lot of heart. They pulled themselves together and played without their captain, and I'm just so proud of them."
Muscarello said his team started to spread the court more in the fourth game, breaking up the Sachem East blockers and creating more chances for Comens and Rob Sarneckis on the outside.
Sarneckis had 19 kills and setter Chris DeLucie added 55 assists, nine blocks and seven aces.
This Bulldogs team became the second in school history to win back-to-back county championships and the first since Lindenhurst's wrestling team did it in 1967 and 1968, according to Muscarello.