In the bottom-right corner of a championship banner that hangs in the Seaford High School gym is one final blank space waiting to be occupied.
“It just needed one more year for the county title,” Seaford girls volleyball coach Marie Savage said. “I told them when we left, ‘You’ve gotta fill that space.’ ”
The top-seeded Vikings will no longer need to stare at that empty space after defeating No. 2 Wheatley, 25-15, 24-26, 26-24, 26-24, to win the Nassau Class B final at LIU Post on Thursday night.
“It was amazing,” said outside hitter Emily DeVito, who had 12 kills, four digs and a block to lead the program to its first county title since 2016. “Our energy, our mindset, everything. It was completely on point. We knew what to do even when we were down.”
Seaford (9-8) will face Bayport-Blue Point in the Long Island championship at Hauppauge High School at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
Trailing 23-19 in the fourth set, Seaford staged a rally that ultimately earned it the county title. The Wildcats came within a point of forcing a winner-take-all fifth game after extending the lead to 24-21, but the Vikings demonstrated their poise with five consecutive points, including two of the final three thanks to DeVito's kills.
In similar fashion, Seaford overcame a late deficit in the previous set after trailing 23-20, and clinched the game, 26-24. A Wheatley shot that sailed out of bounds followed by a return attempt that fell short for the Wildcats put Seaford in position to close out the match.
In those key moments, DeVito said one word encompassed Seaford’s comeback efforts.
“It was energy, energy, energy,” DeVito said. “There was nothing more important than the energy we had on the court.”
The Vikings appeared to take control of the second set with six straight points, taking a 14-4 lead. But Wheatley fought back to pull within 24-22 before coming up with a 26-24 win that evened the score at one game apiece.
Seaford claimed the opening set after scoring four unanswered points to jump out to a 17-9 advantage. After extending the lead to 20-14, the Vikings picked up five of the final six points to move ahead 1-0.
“I’m just so proud,” said setter Kelly O’Kane, who played a key role in filling the banner’s final empty space with 24 assists and three aces for Seaford. “We’ve worked so hard for this since we were freshmen on junior varsity. This was our dream and we did it. I couldn’t be more proud.”