After dominating Wheatley in a regular-season sweep, Seaford needed to dig deep to bring home a girls’ volleyball county title in the championship rematch.
With Wheatley a point away from setting up a decisive fifth set, the Lady Vikings won the final five points and cemented the program’s first county crown since 2016. The late rally followed another come-from-behind effort in the third game as part of a 25-15, 24-26, 26-24, 26-24 triumph in the Nassau Class B finals win at LIU-Post on Nov. 14.
“They’re very tenacious and they never give up,” Seaford coach Marie Savage said of her squad. “They wanted it bad.”
The dramatic victory sent Seaford to the Long Island Class B championship against Bayport-Blue Point last Saturday, when the Lady Vikings made more history with a four-set, 20-25, 25-14, 25-21, 25-19 win against the Suffolk County champions. Seaford will now head to the state semifinals in Glens Falls this Saturday.
With her team trailing 24-21 in the fourth set of the county finals, Anna Butler fended off the first of three game points with a clutch ace. The 5-0 championship-clinching run featured two kills from senior outside hitter Emily DeVito. Seaford won seven of the last eight points after trailing 23-19.
The Lady Vikings also faced a late deficit in the third set, trailing 23-20 before staging a similar rally. They captured six of seven points, the last a Wheatley return shot that fell short of the net.
“The feeling is incredible,” said DeVito, who finished with 12 kills, four digs and a block. “We have worked so hard this season.”
Early in the match, Seaford appeared poised to run away with the county championship after winning the first set convincingly and building a 23-17 lead in the second game. Wheatley responded with a rally of its own in the second set, capturing nine of 10 points in a 26-24 win to square the match at 1-1.
Seaford took five of sets against Wheatley in the teams’ regular season meetings including a convincing Sept. 25 sweep by set scores of 25-19, 25-14, 25-11. Wheatley took the opening set in the regular season finale on Oct. 28 before Seaford took command winning the final three sets, 25-19, 25-10, 25-15.
“They really did their homework and every time we play them they are tougher and tougher,” Savage said of Wheatley, which captured the previous two Class B titles including a sweep of Seaford in the 2017 county finals. “It doesn’t matter if you beat someone twice during the season, they are ready to go and they played us very tough.”
The Nassau County and Long Island championships created a storybook script for Seaford’s nine seniors of DeVito, Kelly O’Kane, Karyn Schaller, Paige Donovan, Casey Lee, Grace Pupke, Isabella Diodati, Alexandra Robins and Juliana Boden. DeVito said the disappointment from the 2017 county finals was very much on the minds of the veteran players who had not yet held up that championship plague.
“It was definitely a hardship for us when we lost two years ago,” DeVito said. “It was really big for us to win this.”