CROSS RIVER – Hen Hud fans were feeling it in the bleachers. The Sailors themselves were feeling it on the court. Even Owego Free Academy had to feel a degree of it on its end of the court.
The Sailors were charging back from being down match point, 24-19, in a winner-take-all fifth game of the Class B state regional final at John Jay-Cross River High School on Saturday, and they were going to complete the comeback.
Owego called a timeout to try to kill Hen Hud’s momentum, and the Sailors came right back with another point.
Needing one to extend the match, Hen Hud’s season came to a heartbreaking end with one 19-second rally and an uncharacteristic miscommunication between teammates.
“I thought we fought hard,” Sailors senior setter Emily Barthelmes said after the 19-25, 20-25, 25-18, 25-21, 25-23 loss. “Definitely not the best we’ve ever played, but, I mean, it was five games. It was a hard-fought game.”
In a rematch of the 2013 regional final, Hen Hud entered as an evenly matched foe of Owego this year, compared to the long shot that fell to the eventual state champion two years ago.
“The kids gave me everything they got,” Sailors head coach Diane Swertfager said.
Owego (18-0) and Hen Hud (20-3) entered Saturday ranked third and fourth in the state, respectively.
“We still won sectionals. That’s still a huge accomplishment,” said Barthelmes, one of six Sailors seniors who were on the 2013 roster. “We’re all such good friends that it doesn’t matter even if we had a losing record.
“The friends I’ve made are more important.”
Leaving Hen Hud with her will be Lorreilee Castaneda, Alicia Niebrzydowski, and all-section classmates Lindsay Pelaccio, Gillian Stieglitz, and Kelsea Gillen.
“They’re really my best friends,” Barthelmes said, “and I’m really sad that I’m not going to get to play with them again, but it’s been a really great experience playing with them.”
The Indians advanced to the Class B state championships at the Glens Falls Civic Center for the second time in three years. The Section 4 champions will participate in a four-team pool play semifinal round Saturday, Nov. 21, at 2 p.m.