HARRISON – As Harrison volleyball head coach Candy Light called a timeout during the deciding fifth set of a match against league foe Eastchester, the sounds of “New York, New York” started to fill the Harrison High School gymnasium. Instead of Frank Sinatra crooning his 1979 classic, it was Eastchester student Matt Stern who began an a cappella chorus Thursday afternoon.
“Start spreading the news,” Stern sang, before being joined by more than a dozen of his “Eagle Nation” classmates who had made the trip from Eastchester. The Eagles led 19-15, but Stern and Co. had correctly predicted that a victory was imminent.
Eastchester finished off Harrison in the set for a 14-25, 25-15, 19-25, 25-23, 25-22 road win, halting a late Huskies comeback.
“I didn’t grow up here, so I think it means something a little bit different to the people who grew up here and have that longstanding tradition of the rivalries,” Eastchester head coach Kathy DePippo said after the match. “I don’t really feel that intensity. I look at every team the same way.”
From the student fans — who chanted “22-20!” at Harrison football players taking in the game, a jab in reference to Eastchester’s football win over the Huskies earlier this year — to the players themselves, Eagles representatives made it clear that facing Harrison is no ordinary matchup.
“We always set out to beat them because they’re so good,” said Eastchester setter Karly DiSanto, who finished with 31 assists in the win. “(We’re) definitely getting more amped up, because we have to work harder.”
After mounting a thrilling comeback in the final set, it was a minor miscommunication between Harrison players that led to the game-winning point. Light said her players showed signs of hesitation throughout the match.
“A few times, we didn’t play to win — we played to not lose,” Light said. “It’s upsetting to lose such a tough five-game (match), but they’re ready to come back tomorrow and fight again.”
Player of the game — Jessica Becchetti, Eastchester: The senior outside hitter was “a force to be reckoned with,” according to DePippo, tallying 22 kills and seven aces in the win.
Quotable — “I’m glad that we practice the way we practice. I’m glad that we practice against each other, 23-23 (scenarios), we practice 20-20, we practice always getting first ball side-out — these are things that these girls have been trained to do; this isn’t like an overnight thing.” – Eastchester head coach Kathy DePippo