Port Jefferson's Sophia Wennerod gets to the ball during pool...

Port Jefferson's Sophia Wennerod gets to the ball during pool play at the Class C girls volleyball state championships at Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls, New York on Nov. 19, 2022 Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

GLENS FALLS, N.Y. — The Port Jefferson girls volleyball team was down early in pool play Saturday at the state championships at Cool Insuring Arena, but they were certainly not out.

After dropping the first two sets of the day to defending Class C champion Portville, the Royals knew they’d have to dig themselves out of a hole to reach the championship match — and that’s just what they did.

Port Jefferson rattled off four straight sets in pool play, two each against Lansing and Galway to finish second out of the four teams and earn a shot at the program’s first state title at noon on Sunday in a rematch against Portville.

“We have this mentality that we have to give it (our) all,” senior Sophia Wennerod said. “This is the end of the season and our last chance. We can’t leave regretting anything. After the first two sets we just had to settle down and we couldn’t keep playing like we were. And we didn’t.”

Despite falling to Portville 25-9 and 25-12 the Royals were able to regroup and won two sets against Lansing, 25-23 and 26-24. They won the first set against Galway, 25-10, to finish 4-2 and secured a spot in Sunday’s championship.

“We usually come out slow and that being our first two sets at states was a little nerve wracking to begin with,” Alexa Ayotte said. “I think we’re going to come out strong in the final.”

Port Jeff (18-3) also fell behind two sets in the Suffolk championship against Mattituck.

“Our big goal was to win the county,” coach CJ Hafner said. “We wanted to get back there and win and everything after that has fallen into place.” 

Port Jeff knew it needed to win one of two sets against Galway to advance and pounced early.

After taking a 6-4 lead Galway took a timeout to try and stem the momentum, but the Royals won five straight points from there on the way to a 25-10 victory.

“There are four other seniors besides me and Sophia and this is our last chance to have this success and make a name for ourselves,” Ayotte said. “We’re doing it for each other and we’re going to try and go as far as possible.”

Port Jeff will have to beat a Portville team that went 6-0 Saturday and has won three of the last four Class C titles. A Long Island school has not won a state Class C crown since Glenn in 2003.

“Our girls love being the underdogs,” Hafner said. "We’re all the same height, we don’t have players that might be jumping out of the gym but we have girls that do what they’re supposed to and work their butt off and listen to coaching. You can’t teach that, it’s all about heart.”

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