Back in 2010, the Eastport South Manor boys volleyball team won its first Long Island Division II Championship, a 3-2 victory over Bellmore JFK. On Tuesday evening, the two teams met again for the Long Island title but this time it was Bellmore JFK that came out the victor, downing the Long Island champion Sharks 3-2 at the Westhampton Beach Middle School.
The undefeated Cougars (22-0) will now compete for the state title against an opponent to be determined this weekend at the Glens Falls Civic Center. The loss effectively ends the season for ESM (12-3).
Though both contests went five sets, Tuesday’s match was much tighter than the first time the teams met two years ago. ESM won the first set 26-24 on Tuesday and then lost the second set, 25-15. Bellmore JFK took the third set 29-27 and the Sharks bounced back and won the fourth set, 25-22. The Cougars hung on to win the final and deciding set, 25-22.
ESM was down much of the fifth set, but pulled within a point of Bellmore JFK late in the contest. The Cougars were able to pull together a 3-0 run to take a 24-21 lead, but senior Shark Connor Brandow’s booming kill made it a two-point game.
After Brandow’s kill, ESM served the ball to the Cougars, who got the ball back over the net cleanly. The Sharks tried to set up a play for Brandow, but the head official called an error on ESM, giving Bellmore JFK the match-clinching point and the win. The reason for the foul was not immediately clear though ESM head coach Bruce Stiriz did not argue the call.