No more denials for Penfield boys volleyball.
The Section V Class A championship that has eluded the Patriots, more like been denied them by McQuaid each of the previous two years, arrived Thursday after defeating the defending state champion Knights in five sets at Webster Schroeder. Players and coaches confirmed the reality by kissing the base of the block-like trophy.
“It’s a feeling of pure ecstasy, I’ve never felt anything like this,” Penfield senior Jack Bittker said. “To do it with guys I’ve known since I was 12, (working and wanting) every single day, they are my best friends.
“There is no better feeling in the world.”
Penfield will participate in the state regional round at noon Saturday at Orchard Park, after beating McQuaid, 25-15, 16-25, 18-25, 25-22 and 25-16. The Patriots face Clarence, champion of the Buffalo-region, for a place in the state championship weekend at Suffolk County Community College.
More than 2,200 people watched — it was standing-room only at Webster Schroeder — and part of the Penfield “Birdhouse” student cheering section joined the team on the floor after the clinching point.
“We’ve worked so hard for this,” Penfield senior Jordan Solomon said. “This is my fourth sectional final appearance. Every drop of sweat that hit the floor, every tear came down to this moment and it finally paid off.”
The Patriots remains undefeated at 20-0 after a second victory this season over rival McQuaid. While the teams play in different leagues — McQuaid in the Rochester City Athletic Conference and Penfield in Monroe County — their annual meetings for championships have added spice to the rivalry.
There also was a large crowd when these teams met in October. Penfield won that match in three sets, but McQuaid (16-4) played without outside hitter Ryan Dorgan, who was sidelined by injury.
Jack Bittker claimed before the sectional final that confidence among the Patriots was high, and it showed during the first set. Penfield coach Mike Fusare remarked all season with part wonder and pride about how the mentality of the players on the team had changed.
Fusare described it as “tough in the head”, and the Patriots needed to have that approach Thursday when the Knights snatched the second set and then took the third.
“Down 2-1, getting served off the court by a defending state champion was adversity as deep as you can get in,” Fusare said. “They steadied themselves.”
Section V Class A All-Tournament Team: Ryan Sumarsono (Victor), Ryan Algier (Fairport), Spencer Wickens (McQuaid), Jack Bittker (Penfield), Charlie Siragusa (McQuaid), Jett Klintworth (Penfield). Coach of the year: Mike Fusare (Penfield). Most Valuable Player: Jordan Solomon (Penfield).
Spencerport defeated Midlakes in three sets Thursday in the Class B/BB state qualifier with Josh Rabidoux leading the way with eight kills.
Spencerport will face Eden-VI at 2 p.m. Saturday at Orchard Park High School in the Division II Western Regionals.
John Olmsted had two blocks and two kills in the 25-22, 25-19, 25-23 victory.
Andrew Bertino tallied seven kills and three aces, Trevor Lane added 9 kills, and setter Jarod Barnard notched 31 assists for the Rangers.
“To have fun and earn a trip to New York City,” Spencerport’s coach Aaron Austin said, “it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity they can make if they really want it.”