While Eastport-South Manor boys volleyball has made a habit of winning big during its 11-match winning streak, Ryan Byrne and the Sharks showed Tuesday they are not fazed by close matches.
Byrne had 29 kills, seven digs, and three aces and Josh Undari had 13 kills and six digs to lead visiting Eastport-South Manor over Sachem East in five sets in a Suffolk I match. Chris Suarez added 14 digs for the Sharks, who won, 23-25, 26-24, 26-24, 22-25, 25-15.
"We just keep pushing. When the pressure's up, we bring our game up," Byrne said.
Eastport-South Manor (10-1) has won 10 straight league matches and 11 consecutive overall, but it was apparent early that Tuesday's match would not be an easy one.
Kyle Biggers' kill clinched the first set for Sachem East, and the hosts built off that by taking an 18-14 lead in the second. Eastport-South Manor fought back, but still trailed 23-21, before winning five of the set's final six points to level the match.
Eastport-South Manor led for most of the third set, but fell behind 24-22. Facing double-set point, the Sharks finished on a 4-0 run to take a 2-1 lead.
"In terms of courage and camaraderie, I've been blessed by this team," coach Bruce Stiritz said. "Our passing got crisper as the match went on and our defense really came to life."
Sachem East (5-6) showed resilience of its own, coming back from 22-20 down in the fourth to take the set by three points. In the fifth, though, Eastport-South Manor was in command throughout, winning the set by 10 to take the match.
"We love to play very long games," Undari said. "We love to outdo the other team. We love to just go longer than them and show our endurance. We'll always give you a show."
"This isn't the first time we've been in a fifth set," Stiritz said. "I think they might have a comfort zone that they know they're going to pull it out in the fifth."
The Sharks, who have six straight-set wins this year, also won their other two five-set matches, defeating Half Hollow Hills and Lindenhurst.
"We all love pressure and we use that pressure to drive us," Suarez said. "We have things to work on, but you know we're never going to stop pushing."