Although they had to wait a while, county championship glory eventually came for the Wantagh Warriors girls volleyball team. Wantagh, after building a two-game cushion, beat Lynbrook 3-2 in the Nassau Class A final at Farmingdale State College Thursday night.
The 25-20, 25-14, 21-25, 23-25, 25-15 victory advanced Wantagh to the Long Island Class A championship game, scheduled for Sunday at Farmingdale State.
“It looked like we had it in the beginning, but that’s not the way we think,” Grace Riddle said. “After we lost the third set, we realized that we had to fight back, and play hard. That fifth set, we really battled through and came together as a team.”
Riddle had 16 kills. Kayla Rende had 44 assists and Jillian Laino had 28 digs.
“It was pretty crazy because the game was all over the place,” Rende said. “There were times that we were doing really good and times when we were really down. That fifth set, our main focus was just staying together as a team and taking care of the ball on our side….We started swinging.”
It was over, and then it wasn’t. Wantagh took the first two games of the match in fairly convincing fashion. They werea efficient and, at points, dominant in their 25-20 victory in the first game and built a big lead in their 25-14 victory in the second game. The Owls scored four consecutive points at the end of the second game to cut the deficit to 10.
It would, unbeknownst, to anyone at the time, be a harbinger of things to come. Lynbrook took a 16-11 lead in the second game before Wantagh fought back. Wantagh’s Alyssa Albanese served five consecutive points to cut the Lynbrook lead to 22-21, but Lynbrook scored the next four points to avoid the sweep.
Lynbrook forced a fifth game with a 25-23 victory in the fourth game, chipping away at a 20-16 lead that eventually became 21-20 and finally, after a kill by Lynbrook’s Sara Bahri, ended up forcing a final and deciding game.
“We have to win,” Riddle thought. “We’ve worked for this so long.”
Wantagh held a 13-10 lead when the teams switched sides in the fifth game and the Warriors took it home. .