There may be three finals on Saturday, but they will have a lot to measure up to after Friday’s two incredible finals.
From the heart-pumping, ground-shaking Class A final between Yorktown and John Jay, to the thrilling five-game comeback by Dobbs Ferry to give the Eagles a perfect 21-0 record against the section — if you weren’t at Hen Hud on Friday, you missed out.
Still, there should plenty of exceptional volleyball displayed on Saturday at John Jay-Cross River. I will be there live-tweeting all three finals, but will only be handling the game story for the Class D final between Haldane and Keio.
Here are my previews for all three Section 1 tournament finals:
CLASS B CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW
Who: No. 1 Ardsley (18-0) vs. No. 10 Hen Hud (9-9)
Where: John Jay-Cross River HS, 2:30 p.m.
Background: Anyone who knows anything about volleyball in this area knows that this match isn’t the farfetched mismatch it appears to be. Ardsley (pictured right) comes in boasting a blemish-free 18-0 record and one match away from its sixth sectional title under coach Dave Ponterio. Hen Hud, on the other hand, comes in as one of the best stories of the tournament. While it’s widely known that the Sailors are not a 10-seed-caliber team, they still had to get here as a 10-seed — that means road wins over No. 2 Pelham in the quarterfinals and No. 3 Byram Hills in the semifinals. I don’t know when Diane Swertfager does to get these girls turning it on at the end of each season, but I guess if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Three weeks ago I would say that Hen Hud might squeeze a game out of this one, but that’s about it. Now, the Sailors pose a serious threat of completing one of the best runs in the history of the Section 1 tournament. My prediction: I picked them in the preseason, they earned the No. 1 seed in the postseason and are here now, so I’d be crazy to pick against the Panthers. The Sailors could very well pull off the upset, but I’m sticking with my guns. If Hen Hud could win three postseason road matches, it can certainly handle a neutral site. Ponterio and Swertfager are two of the most experienced coaches in the section, with more than 20 years each. They are also among the winningest coaches in the section, with countless section titles and well over 700 overall wins between them. Ardsley wins in five: 25-21, 20-25, 25-20, 22-25, 25-23. Then again, I am 0-for-2 in finals this year, so who knows.
CLASS D CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW
Who: No. 1 Keio (12-7) vs. No. 2 Haldane (8-8)
Where: John Jay-Cross River HS, 4:30 p.m.
Background: Something tells me that these two will meet in a lot of section finals these next few years. The Blue Devils have dominated this class for the past decade, winning 10-consecutive section titles, so it’s ludicrous to think that anything will change this year. Haldane would hold its own in any other class, and would likely even win in Class C. But being stuck in the small pond that is Class D, the Blue Devils will remain a great white in a fish bowl. My prediction: Haldane sweeps, 25-10, 25-9, 25-14.
CLASS AA CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW
Who: No. 1 John Jay-East Fishkill (19-1) vs. No. 2 Suffern (18-3)
Where: John Jay-Cross River HS, 6:30 p.m.
Background: Suffern being so young last year set the stage for this year — more talented, and more determined to avenge its loss to the Patriots in the Class AA semifinals. John Jay-East Fishkill has looked pretty flawless this season, with it’s only regular-season blunder coming against its namesakes from Cross River (or Lewisboro, whichever town it’s technically in). The Mounties (pictured right) have been incredibly impressive in the last two outings I’ve seen them — beating Clarkstown South and Scarsdale quite handily. I haven’t seen the Patriots since the Clarkstown South tournament in late September, but I know they are a beast of a squad. My prediction: Only because I’m pot-committed, I’m sticking with my original preseason prediction for two reasons — 1. I don’t want to pick against myself and technically have “no wrong pick,” etc. and 2. I’d kick myself if I switched and my original gut-feeling was right. I said John Jay-East Fishkill in five in the preseason, and I’m sticking with it. For better, or worse.
I’ll see you all at John Jay; should be another long, hectic and fun day-into-night of volleyball.