Only moments after helping lead the Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK boys volleyball team to the Nassau A title, Justin Iloulian already had his sights set on an even bigger prize.
“We’re just thinking about the next match,” Iloulian said Wednesday after No. 1 Plainview’s 24-26, 26-24, 25-19, 25-21 victory over defending champion and No. 2 seed Massapequa at Farmingdale State. “All we’re thinking about right now is the Long Island championship. We’re not done.”
Iloulian had 11 kills and four blocks; Nicholas Galasso led the Hawks with 16 kills
“We’re expecting to win,” Iloulian said of Saturday’s Long Island Class A final against Sachem North at Suffolk CCC-Brentwood at noon. “We’re not going to have any doubt in our mind.”
The Hawks clinched the third set and claimed their first lead of the match at 2-1. Massapequa pulled to within 23-19, but Plainview responded by winning the final two points, pushing the Chiefs to the brink.
Massapequa got to within 23-20 in the fourth, but the Hawks earned two of the next three points and the celebration was on.
Plainview finished Nassau play a perfect 17-0, while Massapequa ended at 14-4.
“I’m speechless,” Galasso said. “I don’t know how many teams have gone undefeated in Nassau but we did it. But we thought we could do it going into the season and also win states. And we’re going to.”
“Massapequa’s a great team and they’re always going to blast through our block, and we expected that,” Plainview coach Russi Villalta said. “We made some adjustments in practice and we pulled through.”
Massapequa rallied to take the opening set after a quick 6-2 start by Plainview. The Hawks worked their way back after falling behind 22-19, tying the score at 24 before the Chiefs closed it out with two straight tightly contested points.
Plainview dug deep to come away with a win in the second set. The Hawks trailed 24-22 before scoring four consecutive points — including back-to-back kills from Iloulian — to tie the score at one set each.
Iloulian spoke about what changed for the Hawks after dropping the initial set.
“We just let it spark us,” Iloulian said. “We just cleaned up what we were doing and kept going from there.”
“I knew this team could be this good coming in,” Villalta said.
“This season’s been a dream. Justin is such a leader with how he takes care of the little things and how he keeps the team together.”