SUFFERN – It was considered almost a foregone conclusion that the Suffern boys volleyball team would win its eighth Section 1 title in nine years, but Clarkstown North must have missed the memo.
The Rams won two of the first three sets in Tuesday’s championship match, allowing thoughts of a devastating upset to creep into the Mounties’ minds.
“It was kind of shocking,” Suffern senior Evan Margolin said. “They really came out like they wanted it, possibly even more than us.”
Suffern had beaten Clarkstown North five times during its undefeated regular season, but the Mounties found themselves on the brink of elimination heading into the fourth set.
The Mounties responded with the wills of champions, winning the final two sets convincingly, 25-15 and 25-16, to take the match by a 3-2 score.
The victory was especially sweet after Clarkstown South snapped Suffern’s streak of seven straight titles last season.
“Since the start of the program in 2008, we’d won seven straight until last year,” Teddy Bristow said. “Last year was a big letdown, so this year was kind of trying to get back to it and return to normalcy and get another one. It’s our senior year, so we didn’t want to be the team who lost twice.”
The Rams showed that they came to play by winning the first set, 25-20, before the Mounties evened the score with a 25-21 win in the second set. They went up 15-10 in the third, but upset-minded North rallied to take it 26-24 and move into the lead.
“It was a great game back-and-forth,” Bristow said. “That was pretty tough going down because the third game is really big. It’s 1-1, and whoever gets the next one is only one win away. It’s a really big momentum swing and just the fact that we came back from being down so low really shows who we are as a team.”
The tone-setter for Suffern (19-0) in the final two sets was junior Nick Cimillo, who had several emphatic kills to win some critical points.
“He’s definitely a game-changer and scores a lot of points for us,” Margolin said.
The Mounties left no doubt by closing out the final two sets by comfortable margins, which sends them into regional play on Thursday. They’ll face off against Section 2 champion Shenendehowa at 7 p.m. at Clarkstown South High.
“I’m really happy with the way we finished,” Bristow said. “That’s who we are, and that team that we played like in the last two sets – that’s going to carry us.”