For the last two years, Suffern saw its season end the same way. The Mounties reached the Section 1 Class AA final only to fall to Arlington.
This year they flipped the script.
No. 2-seeded Suffern defeated top-seeded Arlington, 3-1 (25-21, 17-25, 25-23, 27-25) to capture the Section 1 Class AA title on Saturday at John Jay-Cross River High School. The Mounties earned their first Section 1 title since 2008.
“It feels great in my third year to come back and win against Arlington,” senior captain Elizabeth Flaherty said. “The past two years they’ve beaten us. We put in a lot of hard work and dedication. We were really motivated.”
The dramatic final set was a back-and-forth affair that saw the lead change hands multiple times.
“It was kind of nerve wracking,” Flaherty said. “In the second set we were up and they came back and beat us, so it felt good to get that lead and take it from them.”
After dropping the second set, Suffern faced a 20-18 deficit in the third, but rallied to pull out a 25-23 win.
“By midway through game three, we felt we were the better team,” Suffern coach Sean Barnes said. “We kind of handled their middle hitters and stopped them right off the start.”
Suffern (16-3), which competed in its fifth straight sectional final and fourth in a row against Arlington, came out on fire and took a 7-1 lead in the first set.
“We’ve been working on self motivation all year,” Barnes said. “I think playing against a team four times in the finals, you don’t walk in intimidated at all.
“Arlington is a great team and we love competing against them. We got them today and that’s all that counts."
Flaherty led Suffern with 23 kills. Every play she was involved in resulted in something positive for the Mounties.
“I can’t say enough about Liz,” Barnes said. “She just keeps swinging. I think her arms going to fall off at times. She’s our leader. The girls look at Liz and say, ‘We’re going to hit as hard as Liz. We’re going to pass as well and try to jump serve like Liz.’ She raises the bar for a lot of the kids.”
Setter Geena Digiacomo had an incredible 40 assists for Suffern. Taylor Anderson contributed 15 kills, while Samantha Uline added six kills.
“Our defense played well today,” Barnes said. “Our serving was consistent which has been a big problem for us all year. We got the job done.”
Molly Law had 21 assists for Arlington (16-2). Lauren Saugerstrom (15 kills), Angela Silveri (10 kills) and Janine Patora (11 kills) also contributed.
Check back for photos from this game.
Follow Rob DiAntonio on Twitter @MSGV_RJD