Westhampton Beach Boys Volleyball Team's Season Ends With First-Ever State Final Appearance - 27 East

Westhampton Beach Boys Volleyball Team’s Season Ends With First-Ever State Final Appearance

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Junior libero Aaron Kiefer passes the ball during pool play. MARK DEBORTOLI

Junior libero Aaron Kiefer passes the ball during pool play. MARK DEBORTOLI

Junior libero Aaron Kiefer receives a serve during pool play. MARK DEBORTOLI

Junior libero Aaron Kiefer receives a serve during pool play. MARK DEBORTOLI

Westhampton Beach seniors Alec Kelly, Casey Sidor and Seth Terry with head coach Josh Tuttle and their state championship runner-up plaque. MARK DEBORTOLI

Westhampton Beach seniors Alec Kelly, Casey Sidor and Seth Terry with head coach Josh Tuttle and their state championship runner-up plaque. MARK DEBORTOLI

Senior outside hitter Alec Kelly receives a serve during pool play. MARK DEBORTOLI

Senior outside hitter Alec Kelly receives a serve during pool play. MARK DEBORTOLI

Senior middle hitter Ben Donohue blocks the ball during pool play. MARK DEBORTOLI

Senior middle hitter Ben Donohue blocks the ball during pool play. MARK DEBORTOLI

Westhampton Beach's bench players row the boat. MARK DEBORTOLI

Westhampton Beach's bench players row the boat. MARK DEBORTOLI

Senior right side hitter Casey Sidor spikes the ball during pool play. MARK DEBORTOLI

Senior right side hitter Casey Sidor spikes the ball during pool play. MARK DEBORTOLI

Senior right side hitter Casey Sidor slams the ball over the net during pool play. MARK DEBORTOLI

Senior right side hitter Casey Sidor slams the ball over the net during pool play. MARK DEBORTOLI

Senior right side hitter Casey Sidor slams down a kill. MARK DEBORTOLI

Senior right side hitter Casey Sidor slams down a kill. MARK DEBORTOLI

Senior right side hitter Casey Sidor spikes the ball. MARK DEBORTOLI

Senior right side hitter Casey Sidor spikes the ball. MARK DEBORTOLI

Senior right side hitter Casey Sidor serves. MARK DEBORTOLI

Senior right side hitter Casey Sidor serves. MARK DEBORTOLI

Westhampton Beach's boys volleyball team celebrates a set win over Jamesville-Dewitt during pool play. MARK DEBORTOLI

Westhampton Beach's boys volleyball team celebrates a set win over Jamesville-Dewitt during pool play. MARK DEBORTOLI

Westhampton Beach's boys volleyball team celebrates a point over Jamesville-Dewitt during pool play. MARK DEBORTOLI

Westhampton Beach's boys volleyball team celebrates a point over Jamesville-Dewitt during pool play. MARK DEBORTOLI

Senior setter Seth Terry sets up the attack during pool play. MARK DEBORTOLI

Senior setter Seth Terry sets up the attack during pool play. MARK DEBORTOLI

Senior setter Seth Terry serves during pool play. MARK DEBORTOLI

Senior setter Seth Terry serves during pool play. MARK DEBORTOLI

Senior setter Seth Terry pushes the ball outside during pool play. MARK DEBORTOLI

Senior setter Seth Terry pushes the ball outside during pool play. MARK DEBORTOLI

Senior setter Seth Terry sets up a play. MARK DEBORTOLI

Senior setter Seth Terry sets up a play. MARK DEBORTOLI

Westhampton Beach's boys volleyball team made it to the state final for the first time in school history. MARK DEBORTOLI

Westhampton Beach's boys volleyball team made it to the state final for the first time in school history. MARK DEBORTOLI

Westhampton Beach's boys volleyball team huddles up before a pool play set. MARK DEBORTOLI

Westhampton Beach's boys volleyball team huddles up before a pool play set. MARK DEBORTOLI

Senior outside hitter Will Jankowski spikes the ball over the net during pool play. MARK DEBORTOLI

Senior outside hitter Will Jankowski spikes the ball over the net during pool play. MARK DEBORTOLI

Senior outside hitter Will Jankowski leaps up for a kill. MARK DEBORTOLI

Senior outside hitter Will Jankowski leaps up for a kill. MARK DEBORTOLI

Senior outside hitter Will Jankowski receives a serve during pool play. MARK DEBORTOLI

Senior outside hitter Will Jankowski receives a serve during pool play. MARK DEBORTOLI

Desirée Keegan on Nov 20, 2023

This Westhampton Beach boys volleyball team once again wrote itself into the history books by making the program’s first appearance in the Division II state championship final, where the Hurricanes (16-3) fell in three sets to Jamesville-Dewitt — 25-20, 25-19, 28-26 — at Albany Capital Center Saturday.

“Without all of these guys working their butts off for the past four years, this wouldn’t have happened,” said senior right-side hitter Casey Sidor. “I am so proud of this group and what we have accomplished. I hope these guys are as happy for the journey as I am. We have been lucky enough to make it here and play in the last possible game we could.”

Sidor, who has been a part of the program since seventh grade, watched in 2019 as the then-8-4 Hurricanes earned the school’s first Suffolk County and Long Island championship titles, making their first state appearance, where they dropped two pool play round matches to Jamesville-Dewitt (Section III), 32-30 and 25-17.

“This felt really cool,” Sidor said of the rematch with the Rams. “We shifted from being on top of the world to not, but nonetheless made it to the finals and still had a lot of fun. We knew we were here for a reason.”

The Hurricanes split pool play sets this time around, winning, 25-22, and losing, 25-17, to Spencerport (Section V) and coming away victorious, 25-22, and also dropping a 25-21 set to Jamesville-Dewitt to make it to the championship match. The Rams (21-0) had only dropped six sets all season heading into the state tournament.

“Once we started playing it felt like we were all very close in skill,” Sidor said. “After that set win, we felt like we were ready to ball out in the finals. Being on that court definitely made the nerves more intense, but also made me want to play better than I ever have.”

And the senior shined in the third set, recording six kills, a block and an ace.

Jamesville-Dewitt erased a 16-10 deficit and eventually went ahead, 24-23, but following a timeout, Westhampton earned two straight points. The Hurricanes just couldn’t put it away.

“It felt great to keep it close,” said Sidor, who finished with a team-high 13 kills and two aces. “The boys were enjoying playing with each other. When the serve receive was great, the offense was being very aggressive. The adrenaline was rushing through us and we left everything out on the court.”

The Rams’ size and consistency were difficult for the Hurricanes to overcome. Jamesville-Dewitt’s three tallest players were bigger than any of the Westhampton Beach athletes.

“This matched with athleticism is hard to stop,” Sidor said. “They kept the pressure on.”

Still, senior outside hitter Alec Kelly ended the match with 10 kills, two blocks and two aces and senior outside hitter Will Jankowski added seven kills.

“Normally we say that defense wins championships. However, both teams had such fast and balanced high-powered offenses that it was just whoever could stay in-system and keep scoring points,” head coach Josh Tuttle said. “When we were up, it was because we were able to attack aggressively. Jamesville couldn’t stop us. When they were up, it was because they were able to attack aggressively. We couldn’t stop them. Unfortunately for us, they just had a little bit more than us.”

Senior setter Seth Terry said he was thankful for the competition.

“I love that our team got to be pushed to its limit and we got to show our skills on this big of a stage,” said Terry, who had 26 assists and an ace. “When the teams get better it pushes players on the offensive side to get more creative and really use their knowledge of the game, and I feel like our guys did a good job at that.”

He said topping both teams in pool play instilled some added confidence in each of his teammates heading into the final.

“We knew we could compete in that last match,” Terry said. “When we were really pushing ourselves to the best of our ability and the energy was high we were gaining leads, but that type of play is really tough to hold after a full day of play. And that is a strong team all around. They don’t really have any weaknesses.”

Tuttle also admitted the Rams’ size and depth in skill was tough to contend with.

“Our game is disciplined, quick and well-balanced. Their game was disciplined, quick, well-balanced and they were big,” the coach said. “We gave them everything they could handle and fought hard to the last point. I was really impressed with the grit and composure they showed on the big stage.”

Terry said he wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.

“It’s definitely a surreal feeling to have made it this far,” Terry said. “Each guy from the starting seven to the bench put in so much mental and physical effort to get the team to this point. Not a lot of teams go 6-10, return almost everyone and then lose three games all season and finish second in the state. All of the years I’ve spent in the gym with these guys, the relationships I’ve formed and all of this has really meant a lot. I don’t think I’ll forget any of it.”

His team has grown in every facet all season long following a 6-10 2022 season where Westhampton Beach was swept by Eastport-South Manor in the Division II semifinals. This year, the Hurricanes got to avenge that loss and a 3-1 defeat in the finals to end their 8-7 2021 campaign with the program’s first victory, a 3-1 win, over the Sharks since 2007. It was the second known over Eastport-South Manor in school history.

“Despite the challenges that this group has experienced it did not shake our confidence that they were a talented group and could do something special,” Tuttle said of his student-athletes who were also named state sportsmanship award-winners. “It has been really rewarding to see them grow both as volleyball players and as young men. They are leaving a legacy behind them and passing the baton to another talented group.”

These Hurricanes have certainly left their mark.

“This program has been such a big part of my life — whether it’s spending time with coaches, hanging out with the players, the team dinners, so much has come from it and so many bonds have been made,” Sidor said. “We’ve accomplished so much. Very few teams make it to a state tournament, and even harder, a state final. This medal we’ve got still feels well-deserved.”

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