South Side rallies for county title

Lady Cyclones head upstate after taking L.I. crown

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With their championship hopes at risk of fading, South Side came alive when it mattered most.

The Lady Cyclones stormed back after dropping the first two sets to take command of the Nassau Class A girls’ volleyball finals Nov. 14 against Manhasset and bring home the program’s second county title in three years.

“I never saw a look on their face or body language that said we can’t do this even after losing the first two sets,” South Side coach Cheryl Scalice said moments after her team’s come-from behind five-set win at LIU Post’s Pratt Center by scores of 24-26, 16-25, 25-23, 25-15, 25-19. “They are resilient.”

The county championship triumph was just the start of a memorable week for the Lady Cyclones, who went on to capture the program’s first Long Island title since 2002 last Saturday against Kings Park in four sets. The Lady Cyclones once again rallied after dropping the first set to knock off the Suffolk County Class A champions, 19-25, 25-20, 25-19, 25-14.

The Long Island title at Hauppauge High School enables South Side to compete in the New York State championships this weekend. The team will take the long bus ride upstate for the semifinals that get underway this Saturday at Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls.

South Side set the stage for the ensuing championship celebrations with a 25-23 third set during the county finals in which the Lady Cyclones fended off a near Manhasset comeback. The Lady Indians tallied eight straight points after trailing 24-15 to get within a point of sending the set toward a tiebreaker. After a timeout, South Side halted the momentum with a clinching point to send the match to a fourth game.

After trailing 8-7 early in the fourth set, South Side began to seize control with six of the next eight points. The Lady Cyclones then won nine of the final 10 points for a 25-15 win that established momentum heading into the decisive final set.

The Lady Cyclones raced out to a 20-12 lead in the winner-take-all set before Manhasset mounted a run to cut the lead to 22-18. Senior Katelyn Tollefsen set off the championship celebration with a kill on match point off a pass from senior setter Ryann Hoffman.

“When we put our minds to something and are in the right mindset I think we can accomplish anything,” said Tollefsen, who recorded 13 kills and four digs in the county finals. “The team is trying to get as far as we can.”

Tollefsen was part of a team effort that propelled South Side past the fourth-seeded Lady Indians, who were coming off a four-set upset of defending state champion Wantagh in the semifinals. Seniors Annaliese Zola and Jaden Garelle recorded 16 and 14 kills, respectively, while Hoffman had 28 digs. Sophomore Camryn Hoffman and junior Sophia Jackson helped key the team’s defensive effort with 26 and 23 digs, respectively.

“[The county title] was very important to me, especially my senior year,” Tollefsen said. “It means a lot to me.”