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Pierson/Bridgehampton falls in state volleyball semifinals

Pierson/Bridgehampton's Aziza El and Hannah Tuma go up

Pierson/Bridgehampton's Aziza El and Hannah Tuma go up for a block during a match against Millbrook during the Class C state semifinals at the Glens Falls Civic Center on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. Credit: Errol Anderson

GLENS FALLS, N.Y. -- It was a year of firsts for the Pierson/Bridgehampton girls volleyball team.

Not only was it the team’s first county title, but also first Long Island championship and trip to play in the state championships, coach Donna Fischer said. The players were determined to make more history in Glens Falls, but after losing their first four sets Saturday in pool play of the Class C state championship tournament semifinals at the Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls, that next historic step wouldn’t be playing in a state championship match.

But that didn’t mean the run was over yet.

Pierson/Bridgehampton won the fifth set, 25-21, over Albany Voorheesville for its lone pool play victory, finishing the day with a 1-5 record.

“That was pretty great,” said senior Leigh Hatfield, of Pierson High School. “We said that it was still a first for [Pierson/Bridgehampton], winning the first set at state championships.”

Fischer spoke with great pride about her team afterward, featuring only two seniors in Hartfield and Aziza El with a returning core of Olivia Cassone, Samantha Cox, Sofia Mancino, Sophie Borzilleri, Hannah Tuma, Celia Barranco and Gylia Dryden.

“I know they’re sad right now and their emotions are all over the place, but I am beyond proud of them for getting here,” Fischer said. “First time in history, ever. It’s amazing. I was very choked up.”

When the players were at the annual pre-championship banquet Friday night, they couldn’t help but be an awe of programs playing in their seventh — or even greater — championships, bringing them even a greater sense of accomplishment than they already had.

“This was amazing,” said Cox, a sophomore at Pierson High School. “We’ve never gotten anything close to this far as far as [Pierson/Bridgehampton] goes and I just think it was an amazing experience.”

And for Hartfield, a four-year varsity player for Pierson/Bridgehampton (11-3), the moments that stand out for her won’t even include the countless key kills when her team needed it most. Instead, it’s the accomplishment of her younger teammates.

“The moments that stick with me the most is seeing my teammates win the last point of a set,” Hatfield said. “To see how excited they are or when they get a really great hit.”

Cox hopes this won’t be her final experience competing in Glens Falls, but knows she’ll never forget this one saying, “We knew before coming here that whatever happens, this was an amazing experience and a good opportunity for us.”

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