South Side's scrappy girls volleyball team eyed up its lopsided Game 1 loss to Bellmore JFK, and although overmatched, resolved to turn things around in Game 2.
Yes, South Side. Yes, really.
So maybe things were a little topsy turvy Tuesday for the Cyclones, who, with only one loss this season, are hardly the underdog type. But after a nine-point loss in the first set to the fired-up Cougars, who had only two wins, it became abundantly apparent that things were a little . . . different.
"We were overconfident," Ashley DeTullio said.
They weren't intense enough, Sydney Gabriel added. The team wasn't playing to its strengths, Maya Shabbir said.
It didn't last long.
Led by DeTullio, who broke out with 31 digs, and Shabbir, who had 11 digs and 20 kills, the Cyclones (8-1) quickly returned to form, defeating Bellmore, 16-25, 25-19, 25-12, 26-24, in Conference A-I.
"When we switched sides for Game 2, we talked about picking up intensity, focusing on our individual skills and making the chemistry of the team better," said Gabriel, who had 30 assists. "Being seniors, we try to do our best to keep our heads up all the time, win or lose, to show [the younger players] and ourselves that we can do it."
South Side trailed 18-15 in Game 2 before kicking off a 10-point run that was sparked by Shabbir's booming weakside kill and carried along by two of her five aces. They opened Game 3 on a 13-1 run, punctuated by Gabriel's ace, and led by double digits the rest of the game.
"We had a lot of energy in that game," Shabbir said. "Our team thrives on it."
Things got dicier in Game 4, as Bellmore (2-6) eked out an 18-14 lead before an out-of-bounds serve and three straight Shabbir points -- a tip sandwiched by two spikes -- helped tie the score at 19. Up 25-24, Shabbir scored match point on a hard shot that sputtered out of bounds on the volley.
DeTullio's defense all but painted the court -- "Thirty-one digs in four games is pretty much unheard of," coach Cheryl Scalice said -- and helped corral Bellmore's big boppers -- powerful Taylor Haiduk and crafty Jessie Jones in particular.
"We were really able to keep the energy up even when we were down," Shabbir said. "We do think we should've come up with the win faster . . . We shouldn't have lost any games. We're a strong team and we're trying not to have any lulls."
Spoken like a true underdog (or not).