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Volleyball: Pearl River sweeps rival Tappan Zee, moves atop standings – The Journal News

ORANGEBURG – There’s always that bundle of nerves and excitement before a season starts, but with only three returning players from last year’s team, including only one senior, Pearl River wasn’t entirely sure of what to expect going in.
“We wanted to really just show everybody that even though we’re a young team, we can still win a lot and play together,” Pirates’ junior libero Marin Fleming said.
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So far this season, the Pirates have certainly shown they can win, but that they’re also one of the top teams in Rockland.
They entered Wednesday’s match tied with rival Tappan Zee for first place in Rockland County standings.
They left the Dutchmen’s gymnasium with sole possession of the top spot in the race for the No. 1 seed in next week’s county playoffs, after sweeping Tappan Zee, 25-19, 25-18, 25-20.
“It feels great, I know all the girls on the team are like, ‘Yes, we beat one of our biggest rivals!'” Pearl River junior setter Penelope Tsetsekos said. “And we can just keep that through the playoffs and even next season, knowing that we got our No. 1 rival.”
It was a feel good win for Pearl River, who not only got to sweep the regular season series with Tappan Zee, but also bounce back from a recent loss to North Rockland that snapped its seven-game winning streak.
“Communication was not happening (against North Rockland), and I think there was a little bit of a communication fail on the court, and they completely changed that this game,” Pearl River head coach Brianna Kenna said. “Just setting it up and putting the ball down.”
The Pirates led for a majority of the way in the first two games, before using late runs to separate themselves from the Dutchmen.
Tappan Zee held an early lead in a much more closely contested third game, but Pearl River settled in, before using a 5-0 run to surge ahead and pull away to seal the match.
“I thought Pearl River played outstanding,” Tappan Zee head coach Mark Stanford said. “They outplayed us in I think every single facet of the match. They served better, they passed better, they set better, and they hit better. That’s a pretty good formula. You’ll be pretty successful if you can do that.”
Now that they’re back on track with a win, the Pirates hope to keep the momentum rolling through the last few remaining regular season games, and then the playoffs.
Despite being a fairly young team, the Pirates credit their team effort and everyone coming together.
“We are such a young team, there’s so many sophomores and juniors, with only one senior,” Pearl River junior hitter Liv Turilli said. “Leadership-wise, that takes a toll when there’s only one senior, because there was only three returning players from last season, so we really had to step up our game, take control, and show leadership out there. Honestly, I’m really proud of my team right now, because we just kicked some butt.”
Tappan Zee made one last push to salvage the match, and played a much tighter third game. With the set tied up at 15 apiece, the Pirates went on a 5-0 run topped off by a Turilli kill to take a 20-15 lead. From there, the Pirates went on to complete the sweep and prevent any late comebacks.
Liv Turilli, Pearl River: The hard-hitting junior scored a game-high 14 kills, with 13 digs, four aces, and a block.
Pearl River (8-2) — Tsetsekos dished out 19 assists, seven digs, three kills, and two aces. Fleming had 21 digs, three assists, and an ace. Ciara McDermott finished with nine kills and 21 digs. 
Tappan Zee (7-3) — Abigail Estevez finished with 12 kills and three blocks. Casey Kousoulas had six kills and a pair of blocks. Ciarstan O’Connor added five kills. Mackey Donovan and Sorcha Hayes chipped in seven assists each.
“We’re still going to have our same mindset of just playing together, playing our game, and keeping the game in our control,” Kenna said, of moving atop the standings in Rockland. “So, I don’t think it’ll impact us negatively leading into playoffs, but I think it definitely means we need to keep stepping up our game, and we’ve been doing that this entire season. First game, we lost to Clarkstown North and just seeing where we are today, it’s amazing.”
Follow Eugene Rapay on Twitter at @erapay5.


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