GLENS FALLS – For the Pawling High School volleyball team, this season was poetry in motion.
The Tigers made up rhymes and verses before big games, aiming to stay loose and relaxed on the court. The tactic carried them to the New York State Class C final on Sunday, but there wasn’t enough iambic pentameter that could have stopped Pawling’s opponent, Section 6’s Eden.
Eden beat Pawling 25-10, 25-11, 25-10 in the final, as the Tigers fell short of becoming the first team from Dutchess County to win a state volleyball title. However, the group was the first Pawling volleyball team to reach the state final four since 2001, when Tigers coach Jessica Pulford played for the team and Pawling placed third.
Although the season ended in defeat for Pawling, it was an enjoyable run — an enjoyable four years, in fact — as the Tigers boasted six seniors on their roster of 10.
The players are going to remember the ride more than the season-ending loss.
“We always have inside jokes. The poems, obviously,” said senior outside hitter Jaclyn Smith. “It was a really fun season. I’ll definitely remember my senior year playing volleyball for Pawling. It’s going to be a great memory for a while.”
Likewise, fellow senior and setter Clara Lombardo said she’ll remember the jokes. But going beyond the laughs and the fun times, she’ll never forget how she and her team grew into a squad strong enough for an appearance in the state final.
“How we’ve grown throughout the many years that I’ve been playing,” Lombardo said. “We never went to tournaments, to now, going to tournaments.”
But, she added, the achievements on the court won’t compare to the times she spent off the court with her teammates.
The Tigers’ time on the court in the final against Eden was a struggle.
In the first game, Eden jumped out to a 7-3 lead, and built a 10-point lead to pull away. Eden went on to score five consecutive points in the second game before the Tigers reached the scoreboard. Eden shot out to an 8-3 lead in game three, then opened it up to a 15-point lead.
Having faced Eden in pool play, Pulford knew the Raiders were going to make adjustments.
“It’s hard to match up player for player against Eden when they have a ton of talent,” the coach said. “When we started to shut out their outsides, they went to their middles. We couldn’t combat all the talent Eden has.”
Between Class B and C competition, Eden has now won eight straight state titles, 10 in the last 11 seasons and 14 overall.
“We knew they were going to be good,” Smith said. “We tried our hardest. Second is not so bad in the state, I guess.”
A.J. Martelli: firstname.lastname@example.org, 845-437-4836, Twitter: @AJM_PoJoSports