Pushed to the brink of elimination and struggling to find any answers, it appeared as if the Seaford girls volleyball team’s season was on the verge of coming to a sudden close on Wednesday night.
And when the time came to leave it all on the line, Seaford not only leaned on sophomore middle Sarah Lochner, but also their standout freshman, outside hitter Carey-Jean Block.
Lochner ripped off 15 kills and Block added another 10 as No. 2 Seaford overcame a daunting deficit to defeat No. 4 West Hempstead, 22-25, 23-25, 25-21, 25-13, 25-7, in the Nassau Class B final at LIU Post.
"I am unbelievably excited," Lochner said. "We were so down at first and we totally just worked together, pulled it together and won. I couldn’t be happier."
Seaford (15-3) won its second county title over the past three seasons and will return to Post on Saturday at 2 p.m. to square off with Glenn in the Long Island championship/Southeast Regional Final.
Facing a 2-0 deficit and looking for answers, Seaford coach Marie Savage’s adjustments sparked the Vikings in what ultimately became the turning point of the match. Seaford completed a late rally in the third, took control of the fourth by jumping ahead 19-11 and rode its momentum to an 18-5 run to begin the tiebreaker en route to the victory.
"We made some adjustments and they just felt more comfortable," Savage said of the third set, where Seaford stared down elimination trailing 22-21 and battled back with three straight points to keep its season alive. "We went with a different setter in the front to block a little more…Sarah always has a huge impact, but she was so frustrated with blocking their tall hitter that she wasn’t able to hit much. After that I told her not to worry and to just go hit, and she did."
"We know that each little point is like a game in itself," Block said. "We pushed for those and were able to come back."
Nine consecutive points from Seaford put the Vikings ahead 19-18 in the second before breaking a tie at 22. West Hempstead (15-4) responded with the final three points, however, and took a commanding 2-0 advantage.
After falling behind 21-20 in the opening set, the Rams powered their way back with four unanswered points prior to Seaford’s final point to make it 24-22. Chance Mingo’s thunderous block closed out the game to give West Hempstead the early 1-0 lead.
Savage raved about her star freshman’s performance with a county championship hanging in the balance.
"What a bright future for all of us and for her," Savage said of Block. "She’s so humble and just loves the game. All-around, she’s one of the best players I’ve ever seen."