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Ward Melville girls win seventh LI championship

Ward Melville's Jackie Derosa, left, celebrates as her

Ward Melville's Jackie Derosa, left, celebrates as her team defeats Massapequa in the Class AA Long Island girls volleyball championship at Roslyn High School. (Nov. 13, 2012) Credit: Barry Sloan

Ward Melville and Massapequa met in the Long Island Class AA girls volleyball championship match seven times during the previous 10 seasons, with the Patriots claiming the title six times.

The two powerhouses played in the final again Tuesday at Roslyn, where Ward Melville delivered more of the same.

Emily Astarita had 17 kills and 19 digs, and Kristin Bendy added 13 kills, 11 digs and two blocks, as Ward Melville (17-0) won its seventh Long Island championship and its first since 2009 by sweeping the 13-time Nassau champions, 25-16, 25-17, 25-21.

Ward Melville will play for a state championship, beginning with pool play Saturday at Glens Falls. Massapequa finishes at 16-1.

"This is the greatest feeling in the world," Astarita said. "We pushed through it, our defense was awesome and made great sets for me."

The Patriots flexed their muscles in the first game, with powerful spikes from Astarita and Bendy leading Ward Melville to a 13-5 advantage.

The second game was tied at 13 until a Massapequa error gave Ward Melville the lead, and from there three straight points by Astarita, on a block and two kills, and a big block from Courtney Cleary fueled a 12-4 run to close it out.

Alex Stein had a clutch kill that ended a long rally in the Patriots' favor, and Bendy sealed the game with a tap kill.

The third set was the tightest, but it turned the Patriots' way when Bendy tied it at 19 with a block, then put Ward Melville up 21-19 with a spike.

Massapequa came as close as 23-21, but the Patriots clinched the title off a Massapequa error on a point saved for Ward Melville on a dive out of bounds by Jackie Derosa.

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