LEWISBORO — The final serve was in the air, over the net, and heading toward the baseline. The Suffern team turned to watch.
The hope was a deep ball, one that would land somewhere out of bounds and give Suffern one last gasp in a match that had gotten out of hand.
The reality was an uncontested ace, the final blow of John Jay-East Fishkill’s 25-21, 25-17, 25-10 win in the Section 1 Class AA girls volleyball championship at John Jay on Saturday night.
“Game 3, we’d been punched twice, and we didn’t respond as well as we needed to respond there,” Suffern coach Sean Barnes said.
This was a rematch of last year’s semifinal, when East Fishkill snapped Suffern’s streak of six consecutive finals appearances, and it was expected to be a close one between two teams with plenty of returning players and more than enough power up front.
Instead of a back-and-forth battle, it was Suffern’s first sweep of the season.
“We tried to match their intensity as best we could,” Suffern senior Dejanae Smith said. “I think we were expecting it, but being in this atmosphere, all the nerves are there.”
The closest game was the first one, when Suffern outscored East Fishkill in the middle but couldn’t overcome lapses in the beginning and the end. East Fishkill scored the game’s first five points and its five points. Suffern had led by as much as 20-17, but when East Fishkill went on a run, the Mounties couldn’t respond.
It was a theme for the rest of the night.
Suffern’s best attempt at a comeback came with 7-1 run to pull within 22-17 in the second game. Mounties junior Samantha Uline had three kills during that run alone, but East Fishkill had already built such an advantage, it could afford to bide its time and wait for its opportunity.
Three straight points finished off Game 2, and Game 3 ended with East Fishkill scoring the final nine points in a row.
“It was a little bit of lack of passes (early),” Barnes said. “We weren’t as aggressive as we needed to be because the passing wasn’t as crisp in the beginning. And then when the passing got better, we were scared to kind of go at a different tempo, because the passing wasn’t consistent in the beginning. And when we started to play scared, you can’t win playing scared. It just snowballed.”
East Fishkill’s top player, Megan Theiller, showed a good touch at the net, exploiting holes as often as she overwhelmed with force. For Suffern, Uline led with eight kills, but she was the only Mounties player with more than two. Setter Julia Hrycyk had 11 assists, but the scoring opportunities were few and far between in a disappointing end to a strong season.
“I couldn’t be any more proud of the girls,” Smith said. “We had a really good season, and we came really far. We did a really good job, and I’m really proud. Even now.”
Here is Carucha’s video recap of the match: