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Volleyball title a first for Calhoun

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Calhoun saved its best for last and as a result made school history.

The top-seeded Colts dominated Bethpage in Tuesday evening’s Nassau Division II boys’ volleyball championship match, 25-14, 25-20, 25-16 for their first-ever county title before a spirited home crowd at Brookside School.

Penn State-bound Owen Rose capped his high school career with an electrifying performance that included 27 kills. The 6-foot-7, All-County hitter received plenty of support from seniors Pat Sanchez (31 assists, 12 kills) and Rob Baguiao, junior Chris Zaveckas (7 kills, 5 blocks) and sophomore Matthew Kalfas (10 kills) as Calhoun capped a 13-1 campaign by making quick work of the Eagles.

“We practiced hard and brought the energy,” Colts coach Ryan Pastuch said. “We had a tough match against them a few weeks ago so we knew what to expect. We fine-tuned a few things and the guys really executed. This was our best match of the year. We definitely saved our best for last.”

Calhoun, which reached the quarterfinals last season (fall, 2019) and returned all but one starter, outlasted Bethpage in three hard-fought sets March 31, 25-22, 25-23, 25-22. Rose, who had 25 kills that day, said the Colts were happy to get a rematch.

“We wanted to play Bethpage again,” Rose said. “We were confident even though they played us tough the first time. We worked hard for four years and really wanted this.”

Kalfas set the tone in the opening set as Calhoun raced to an 8-3 lead and never looked back. The southpaw had a couple of kills and a service ace before Rose began to inflict damage. Zaveckas had blocks on consecutive points to open the advantage to 16-9 before Rose was responsible for 7 of the Colts’ final 9 points. He was even more unstoppable in the second set with 8 kills.

“Owen is probably the best volleyball player in school history and he showed why again today,” Pastuch said. “We’ve had some D3 players come out of our program but not D1. He definitely left his mark behind.”

Behind Rose’s hitting and the defense led by Baguiao, the libero, Calhoun exploded to a 20-9 lead in the second set before No. 3 Bethpage showed some fight. The Eagles scored five straight points before Rose kept them at arm’s length with a couple of his patented blasts. Sanchez closed the second set with a cross-court kill off a pass from sophomore Ryan Pucella, bringing them 25 points from the history.

“Our chemistry has been great all season,” Pastuch said. “The guys just fed off each other.”

Bethpage’s largest lead of the match was 4-2 in the third set. However, the Colts ripped off the next four points and 15 of 19 to stay in command. Sanchez, the quarterback of the offense, had the title-clinching point with a kill.

“I’ve been thinking about getting that last point for a couple of weeks now,” Sanchez said. “It felt good.”