PELHAM – Moments after winning their host tournament on Saturday, Pelham senior Kailee Chimento and head coach Mark Finegan were asked if they’d rather have the tournament win over Harrison or exchange it for reversing a regular-season loss against the Huskies from less than two weeks ago.
Neither showed hesitation in answering.
“The regular-season match,” both responded after the thrilling 28-26, 25-23 final.
While the tournament win avenges the four-game Oct. 5 loss, it does nothing for the Pelicans’ playoff draw since tournaments are not factored into seeding for the Section 1 tournament.
But that doesn’t mean Finegan will give up the trophy or that Chimento will give up her MVP award from the 12-team tournament.
“Harrison was one of our biggest losses… it was the one that stung us the most,” said Chimento, who verbally committed to play for Wesleyan next season earlier this month. “We’re both very evenly matched teams, so I think it was just a matter of, ‘Who really brought their A-game that day?’ and Harrison did.”
The two teams have been neck-and-neck in the The Journal News’ high school volleyball rankings all season, and now have a head-to-head point differential of 148-145 in six games, with Pelham holding the three-point advantage.
“It’s never easy against them,” Finegan said, noting that the two will have their regular-season rematch on Friday. “It’s just one of those teams when you play against that they defend so well that you know you have to grit out every point.”
Finegan said the two teams share a “friendly rivalry,” from himself — the president of the Section 1 coaches’ association — to Harrison head coach Candy Light — the vice president — and down to the players, who know each other well off the court.
As the all-tournament selections for each team — Val Sprovieri and Melissa Yanez for Harrison, and Katie Rosell and Larissa Del Ponte for Pelham — were announced, the opposing side roared for their competition.
“It makes life a lot easier,” Finegan said. “I was unhappy to lose when we lost to them, but I’m always happy for (Light) because she’s such a great person.
Top-seeded Pelham seemingly strolled to the final after topping No. 8 Briarcliff and No. 4 Eastchester in the quarterfinals and semifinals, 25-13 and 25-12, respectively, while second-seeded Harrison grinded through the bracket, beating both No. 7 North Rockland and No. 3 Ossining, respectively, 25-23.
Eastchester’s Daniella Chiodi and Ossining’s Mychael Vernon rounded out the all-tournament team.