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Long Beach girls advance to state volleyball title game

Emma McGovern, Grace Rosenberg help Marines go 5-1 in pool play.

Long Beach's Emma McGovern reacts to play during

Long Beach's Emma McGovern reacts to play during the Class AA Pool Play where they swept Pine Bush in the New York State Girl's High School Volleyball Championships at 1 Civic Center Plaza in Glens Falls, New York on Nov. 17, 2018. Photo Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

GLENS FALLS, N.Y. — Long Beach made its identity known early Saturday in the state girls volleyball tournament.

Trailing late in each of its first two pool-play sets to Shenendehowa, Long Beach kicked into high gear and remained confident in its aggressive serving.

Emma McGovern capped the first set with four straight aces for a 25-23 win, then Grace Rosenberg sneaked a hard serve with top spin just inside the back line to clinch the next set, 29-27.

That got the ball rolling for a strong showing in the program’s first-ever appearance in the state’s final four. Long Beach went 5-1 in pool play, advancing to Class AA championship match at noon Sunday against Victor.

Long Beach split two sets against Victor, 16-25, 25-13, in pool play.

“The fact that we were able to come back and win both those first two sets shows a lot about the character and the grit of these girls,” coach Kerri Rehnback said.

“We know how crucial the first set is, not only in any game but in the first set of the day, so we wanted to come out strong and build some momentum,” said McGovern, who paced the Long Beach attack with 43 kills and eight aces across six sets. “But it was super nerve-wracking.”

Shenendehowa held 19-15 leads in each of its sets against Long Beach (17-0). The Marines even trailed 23-20 in the opening stanza before scoring the final five points to win.

After being behind 19-15 in the second set, Long Beach scored the next four points, tying it at 19. The sides traded points from there, with neither team able to build an advantage until Rosenberg ended the set with her ace.

“That was huge,” Rehnback said. “I knew you were going to need a minimum four wins to win this pool, so that was our mindset, to come out here and take the first two.”

Long Beach dominated Pine Bush, 25-16, 25-14. Rosenberg, who had 10 aces in pool play, ripped through the Pine Bush defense with her power and placement from the service line.

Victor, which went 4-2 in the pool, proved to be a challenge, with its offensive balance and deep serves causing problems. Libero Kathleen Verastegui said that’s what Long Beach expected after watching film.

Playing Victor only helped to reinforce what they had learned.

“We learned more about them,” Verastegui said. “We learned what we need to do in order to beat them.”

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