Friday was a day of firsts for Sachem North boys volleyball.
It marked the first time the Flaming Arrows played in a state tournament, the first time they took on the upstate schools which had dominated the competition, and the first time this season they dropped a set. Sachem North became the first school from Suffolk County to win the Class A state championship.
Rob Steinberg had 47 assists and Dylan Missry had 36 kills to lead the Arrows over McQuaid Jesuit (Rochester), 3-1, in the state championship match in Glens Falls. Sachem North won, 25-22, 25-22, 22-25, 25-18, becoming the second Long Island school to win a state boys volleyball tournament since the competition's inception in 2010 (Bellmore JFK won the Class B crown in 2012).
"This was honestly the best time of my life," said Steinberg, a senior setter who was named tournament MVP. "There's no way I'll forget this and there's nothing that will ever compare to this."
"It's unbelievable. It's just awesome," said Missry, a senior outside hitter. "We worked together so well, this was the team to bring that state championship home. It's just a brotherhood. That's why we won."
"In my 11-year coaching career, I've never had a feeling like this," Sachem North coach Matt Rivera said. "I'm just so happy and proud of these guys. It's really a special team."
Sachem North (18-0) started the championship like it had started every other match this season: by winning the first two sets. McQuaid Jesuit (21-1), which had won three of the last four state titles, responded by taking the third.
"We knew we just had to bounce back," Missry said. "You know with a team like McQuaid, with their size and experience, it was going to be close. You still have to win three sets to win the game."
The Arrows did just that, holding on in a tight fourth set to win the match. After the two teams alternated eight consecutive points, Sachem North was on serve with the match tied at 13. Junior Rob Nolan won four consecutive service points, helping Sachem North close the match on a 12-5 run.
"We all knew we were going to come back. That's what we do," said Nolan, who had 11 digs. "It's just a great feeling to know we did it."
"We knew we were a special team," junior middle hitter Adam Bloomfield said. "It feels good to know all our hard work paid off."
Matt Grace added seven kills for Sachem North, which opened the day by sweeping McQuaid and Bethlehem Central in pool play to earn a berth in the championship. Including the four sets they won in the preliminary round, the Arrows won 58 of the 59 sets they played in this season.
"It means the world to me to go out on top," senior outside hitter Nick Miller said. "I'm so glad I got to do it with my brothers."