Story by Jon Dinan
SULLIVAN COUNTY The Lady Bulldogs of Sullivan West eventually got the best of a tenacious Liberty squad last Friday for its first varsity volleyball win of the season.
The dramatic match came down to the final points of the fifth game as each team valiantly battled for its first victory of the season.
“They wanted it, but we wanted it more,” said Sullivan West senior Karalii Rabii, whose diving save of a Liberty spike late in the fifth game was the catalyst to victory.
It looked as though Liberty would be sent home in four games as Sullivan West rallied to pull within one point late in the fourth game after trailing by as many as six. Liberty however, dug deep and successfully staved off the Bulldogs late push to win the game 25-20 and even the match at 2-2.
The fifth and deciding game was a back-and-forth affair. The score was tied at 15, then again at 17. Sullivan West went up by one making it 18-17, but then Liberty scored three unanswered points to take a 20-18 lead.
Liberty was inches away from giving themselves a late three-point cushion when a commanding spike from Liberty’s Shivani Patel was dug out by Rabii and converted into a Sullivan West point.
It seemed to be the play of the match as an energized Sullivan West team won six of the final seven points to win the game 25-22 and the match 24-26, 25-20, 25-22, 20-25, 25-23.
“Volleyball is all about teammwork and today we played really well as a team.” said Rabii, who hopes to continue playing volleyball in college next year at either Albany or Adelphi.
For a young Liberty team, the loss stings, but is part of the process.
“We are disappointed,” said Liberty head coach, Julie Buck. “We were too slow tonight coming on and off the net. We need to practice passing, covering, and defense, but this is a rebuilding year and they’re still getting used to new drills.”
“This is what I knew we had in us in terms of fight and talent,” first-year Sullivan West head coach Dan Parisi said. “This is how the majority of our losses should have turned out, but we’re fortunate because we get to see all those teams a second time around.
“To maintain this momentum, we have to keep practicing with intensity everyday and working as hard as I know we’re capable of.”