It was a blend of jubilation and instant relief.
Top-seeded Seaford was in uncharted territory, trailing 2-1 to No. 2 Mineola in the Nassau B girls volleyball championship at SUNY-Old Westbury on Wednesday. That made the victory pile a mix of two emotions not uncommon to a title bout.
The Vikings led by a set and then dropped the next two before storming back in the fourth and fifth games to lock up a 25-16, 21-25, 21-25, 25-19, 25-17 win.
The Vikings play the winner of Glenn and Bayport-Blue Point in the Long Island Class B Championship at Old Westbury at 3 p.m.
“After the second set, I really just got the girls together and said, ‘We have nothing to lose. We just need to gather ourselves and stay composed,’ ” said senior Sophie Dandola, who had 14 kills, 21 digs and four aces.
There wasn’t much wrong with the offensive game plan. Sure, Seaford (18-0) seemed hesitant to swing at times because of Mineola’s defensive presence at the net, but the opportunities were there. A change in mentality is what was needed.
“We didn’t make a change to our lineup, we just made a change to our mindset,” said senior libero Ally Palermo, who had 41 digs and rallied the team together after dropping the third set.
Contributions from Carmina Agtuca gave the Vikings the edge in the first. She had 13 kills, 17 digs and three aces, and setter Melanie Cascio (23 assists) often looked to her when the block anticipated a set to Dandola.
Agtuca was hesitant to take credit for her own performance, though she reiterated that the team’s focus had a direct correlation to its confidence.
“We already knew we had the ability, it was just telling ourselves mentally to pick it up,” she said.
When they flipped the switch after the third, everything fell into place. Dandola, Agtuca and the team’s other hitters suddenly began taking advantage of Cascio’s sets. Ashley Soliwoda, who was a presence on defense with four blocks and on offense with 14 kills, began swinging more effectively.
This helped them stave off Mineola (15-4), who received strong contributions from Tori Ondris (40 assists), Colette Maloney (15 kills) and Sam Schroeder (nine).
The win capped an exciting day for Dandola, who signed her National Letter of Intent to play softball at Hofstra earlier that morning.
“It was a good day,” she said. “Very eventful.”