The Smithtown West boys volleyball team has an expression, "Everybody eats." Tuesday night, the Bulls had a feast.
Third-seeded Smithtown West defeated top-seeded Northport, 25-22, 26-24, 15-25, 25-20, in the Suffolk Division I boys volleyball final at Longwood High School. Senior Dan Shanley led the team with 20 kills.
"We’re spreading it everywhere," Shanley said. "Everyone’s getting touches and everyone’s eating. It’s a team sport, it takes six people and with this offense, it’s hard to defend us with everyone scoring."
Smithtown West (13-4) plays Massapequa in the Division I Long Island championship/Southeast Regional final at Longwood on Thursday at 11 a.m.
With the players embracing coach Michael Legge’s mantra of having the team eat, Shanley may as well be the head chef.
"When you have a Dan Shanley on your team, he makes everything easy," Legge said. "I think he’s the best outside and setter in the county and I get to use him as both. I’ve been coaching in Smithtown since 1996 and I’ve never seen anything like it."
Adam Bender added 10 kills, Ryan Downing had eight and Frank Paccione and Aaron Mangino each added five in the win.
Although Smithtown West wasn’t one of the top seeds entering the postseason, the Bulls still felt confident coming off their county title in April after the COVID-19 pandemic shuffled Long Island sports schedules.
"We came in and dropped a couple of games in the regular season," Shanley said. "But once the playoffs came, it was, Man, we can do this. Let’s go into these teams’ gyms and show them what team we are now."
But this time, Smithtown West gets to play for more than a county championship.
"That first playoffs practice, everyone was giddy and ready to go," Shanley said. "We have six seniors starting, none of us wanted it to end."
Northport (14-2) responded with a strong third-set victory and played tough in the final set before Smithtown West ended on a 7-3 scoring run.
"That was crazy and very intense," Legge said. "Northport is a very good team and we knew they weren’t going to back down, right to the end."
But the Smithtown West appetite hasn’t been satisfied yet. With a victory Thursday, the Bulls advance to the state semifinals in Albany.
"We’re hungry," Downing said. "The job’s not finished."