With Chris Shanley spearheading an attack that was firing on all cylinders, Smithtown West boys volleyball earned a spot in the county finals for the first time in program history.
Shanley had 16 kills, Kevin Kelleher added 12 and Jake Torres had 14 digs to lead No. 2 Smithtown West over visiting No. 3 Northport in four sets in a Suffolk Class A semifinal Monday night.
Thomas Bernard had 35 assists and Tom Keller had seven kills for the Bulls, which won 25-23, 24-26, 25-20, 25-16. They will play No. 1 Sachem North at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Suffolk-CC Brentwood for the county championship.
“We’ve been waiting for this moment since July,” Shanley said. “Going to the weight room in the morning in the summer, working hard during two-a-days, it all led up to this and we made it happen.”
The win marks Smithtown West’s first trip to the county finals since becoming an independent team in 2005; a combined Smithtown district team reached the title match in 2004.
Smithtown West (14-2) was able to attack Northport in a multitude of ways, as Keller’s strong play in the middle opened things up for Shanley and Kelleher on the outside.
“We had a nice distribution of kills,” coach Mike Legge said. “Sometimes we get too dependent on our outsides, but we were able to spread things out a little more and open up some more lanes.”
“When everybody gets touches, it’s an amazing thing,” Keller said. “We worked like a well-oiled machine.”
Shanley said Bernard’s passing was key. “Me and Tom were clicking the entire time,” he said. “He got me and Kevin with those perfect sets all day.”
Defensively, the Bulls had to slow a potent Northport attack, led by Chris Parker, who had 22 kills.
“He’s a great hitter,” Keller said of Parker. “He really knows how to place the ball and we really had to key on him.”
“You know the ball is going to him and you put your block up against him, but he still finds a way around it,” Legge said. “It’s not easy.”
Jamie O’Donnell added 15 kills and Ben Sandt had 40 assists for the Tigers (11-6).
Up next for Smithtown West is Sachem North, the two-time reigning Long Island champion, which defeated Smithtown East on Monday.
“If we want to be the best, we have to beat the best,” Legge said of the Flaming Arrows.
Before they turn their attention toward Sachem North, the Bulls players said they were proud to have made school history and reached the destination they set out to reach before the season.
Said Torres: “This was the dream since day one and it happened, so it’s awesome.”