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Nov 20, 2019 11:14 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Westhampton Beach Boys Volleyball Team's Journey Continues After Winning Long Island Championship

Westhampton Beach head coach talks to her setter, Blake Busking. RON ESPOSITO
Nov 22, 2019 12:17 PM


The journey continues.

The Westhampton Beach boys volleyball team, fresh off its first ever Suffolk County Division II Championship just over a week ago, will continue its journey after defeating Long Beach, 3-2, for the Long Island Division II Championship on Tuesday night at Farmingdale State College. With the victory, the Hurricanes stamped their ticket to the New York State Championships, which are this Saturday, November 23, at the Albany Capital Center. The opening ceremony is slated to start at 9:15 a.m., pool play will begin at 10 a.m. and the finals are expected to start at 3 p.m.

The LIC was, as expected, a back-and-forth affair with two evenly matched teams going at it. Westhampton Beach won the first game, 25-21, and after falling behind by as many as six points in the second game, it came back to tie it only to fall, 27-25. With the match tied 1-1, the ’Canes won the third game, 25-20, but the Marines came right back with a strong fourth game that they took, 25-20, to force a tiebreaking fifth game, which is played to 15.

Westhampton Beach had the lead at 8-5 — the teams switch sides at the eighth point — and after a few key kills by senior Luke Farnan, junior Ryan Barnett, who has led the offensive charge all season for the ’Canes, fittingly smashed the match-clinching point to the court to give his team the 15-12 win in the fifth game and the 3-2 overall victory.

“I just thought, swing high, go get it, and don’t hold back,” Barnett, who finished with 19 kills, said about his title-clinching kill. “The fifth set I always thought is all momentum. That set is so much different than any other set because the change at eight is a totally different perspective. You always have to stay positive ... and finish it out.

“It means everything,” he added about the victory. “Since seventh grade we started a goal for the program, so now it’s amazing to be here.”

Westhampton Beach head coach Jackie Reed said that many of her players stepped up when they needed to, including Farnan, who not only had big kills in the tiebreaking set but also played well throughout the night, finishing with nine kills.

“I was just trying to help my team,” Farnan said. “I knew I had a good matchup with their middle and I told Blake [Busking] to set me a couple of times. He had great sets and we got it done.

“It feels amazing. It’s freaking awesome,” he added about the victory. “I never thought it would feel this good.”

Reed said that in preparing for opponents this season the team used situational cards, and one that came up quite a bit was that it was trailing 3-8. How was it going to come back?

“We usually kind of falter, 13-15, but this time we were up so we knew if we kept on pushing like we were down it would pan out in our favor,” she said. “We have scouted these guys twice. We have practiced for two weeks against our non starters ... hard work pays off,” Reed added. “Our second middle [Farnan] came in clutch for us. Our setter [Busking] came in clutch for us. Our serving specialist, who’s not even a serving specialist, but came in and helped out. I’m just beyond proud of our team. I am so honored to be their coach. It’s amazing.”

Busking, a senior, said that Reed warned the team that if it didn’t come fully prepared to play its top game it was going to lose and the players took that to heart. Busking finished with 51 assists and 15 digs. Sophomore Daniel Haber had 18 kills, senior Micah Terry had 14 digs and five kills, senior Matt Lambert had 18 digs and junior Hank Scherer had 14 digs and eight kills.

“We really had to give it our all,” he said. “Our coach came into it telling us that if we didn’t give it our all it would be a tough match, and it still was a tough match even though we went 100 percent, but we came out on top.”

Now Westhampton Beach will prepare for its first ever appearance in the state tournament. Unlike other sports where a loss means elimination, a loss in one match in pool play isn’t the end of the world. If a team can come back and play well in its other two matches it can still move on to the finals, since the top two teams advance.

Westhampton Beach will be battling Jamesville-DeWitt, a similarly athletic high school just outside of Syracuse, and Grand Island, which is a hop, skip and a jump away from Niagara Falls. Reed said typically the teams coming out of the Buffalo/Rochester area, such as Grand Island, are the favorites to win the state title, but the way she looks at it, her team is playing with house money.

“Our goal was to win the counties. We’re sitting here now winning the Long Island Championship and just having fun going up on Saturday, whether we win or not,” she said. “We could lose every single state game and be third in the state, okay, I’ll take that!

“[But] I could potentially see us coming out as state champs, which is 100 percent unbelievable, from little old Westhampton.”

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