For the second straight year, the Marlboro High School volleyball team is headed to the state tournament.
After dropping Sunday’s first game of the Section 9 Class B final at SUNY New Paltz, second-seeded Marlboro rallied to win the next three to defeat top-seeded Red Hook, 21-25, 25-15, 26-24, 25-14.
“Now we’re going to try to go as far as we can,” said senior outside hitter Aubrey Bianco, who helped lead the Iron Dukes to their second straight sectional title.
Marlboro will face Owego, Section 4’s champion, in a state regional semifinal at James I. O’Neill High School at 3 p.m. Tuesday.
“We just have to play our own game, and we’ll be good,” Bianco said.
In the opening game, Marlboro’s last lead came at 2-1, as Red Hook twice ran out to eight-point advantages. The first came at 14-6, the second at 15-7. Still, the Dukes nibbled at the deficit, eventually scoring four straight points to tie the game at 20-20. From there, though, Red Hook won five of the next six points to prevail.
Six straight points gave Marlboro a 9-3 lead in the second game, and the Dukes pushed on. They later strung together five points in a row to double the Raiders, 14-7. Marlboro continued to build momentum, scoring seven straight points to take a 22-11 advantage before winning the game by 10 points.
The teams traded five one-point leads to open the third game before Marlboro rallied for five straight points to open a 10-6 advantage. Six straight points gave the Raiders a 15-14 lead, but the teams continued to trade blows. They tied the score eight more times before the Dukes scored the final two points, the game winner coming on an ace to put the squad ahead, two games to one.
Coach Katie Mineo said the effect of that third game, which bolstered her Dukes and seemied to deflate the Raiders, couldn’t be overstated.
“Winning a close game like that, of course, is always good motivation to come out,” she said, “and when you’re on the other end of it, it hurts a little bit.”
Red Hook won the opening point of the final game, but that was the Raiders’ lone bright spot. Eight straight points gave Marlboro a cushion, and the Dukes made that a 15-6 edge by winning 10 of 11 points.
“We knew they were going to come out strong,” Mineo said. “But again, we had to take that motivation and go with it.”