Sachem North left no doubt Tuesday night regarding its boys volleyball supremacy on Long Island.
With 6-8 Chris Lehnert and 6-4 Alex Bazelais kept directing Massapequa kill attempts back into the Chiefs’ faces the Flaming Arrows captured their second straight Long Island Division I championship with a 25-18, 25-18, 25-12 victory in the state Southeast Region championship at Farmingdale State. They have won four of the past six Long Island crowns. They celebrated this one with a dogpile on the court.
Sachem North (18-0) advances to the championship round of the state tournament where it will be pitted against Section V champion McQuiad of Rochester and Section II champion Shenendahowa of Clifton Park on Saturday at Albany Capital Center. The Flaming Arrows will be gunning for their second state title and first since 2014.
“It's a chance to prove that that we can do it,” said outside hitter AJ Fitzgerald, one of five returning starters from the Sachem North team that lost the state final a year ago. “We are going to do it. I'm very confident we are, and that's been the one thing everyone has been focused on from the start.”
“We’re getting a second chance and we’re not going to waste it,” Lehnert said.
Sachem North put together run after run to take out Massapequa. It trailed 18-16 in the first game before scoring the game’s final nine points. In the middle of the second game there was a run where the Flaming arrows scored eight of 11 points to pull out to an 18-9 lead. And in the final game, Sachem North scored the first six points, pulled out to a 13-3 lead and never looked back.
Lehnert and Bazelais were key in all of it.
“The middles really stepped up big tonight,” Arrows coach Matt Rivera said. “They blocked. They swung and scored for us. They took over the game. And we don’t usually play that way. We rely more on the outside hitters.”
Lehnert had five blocks and five kills, Bazelais had four blocks, CJ Johnson had 23 assists and Bradley Hall had a .500 hitting percentage for Sachem North. Aidan Gregory had 15 assists for Massapequa (16-3).
“Our big guys got hot and they never cooled off,” Fitzgerald said. “It was a big game and the bigs really came through.”