In her five years playing for the , senior Aly Marchino said she'd never faced a 2-0 hole in the .
But heading into game three of Wednesday's Class AA semifinal, that's exactly where Lindenhurst found itself after surrendering the first two games to Ward Melville.
However, facing elimination, Marchino and junior Rachel Ramirez willed their team to three straight victories as Lindenhurst rallied past the Patriots, 3-2, (23-25, 14-25, 25-15, 25-18, 25-20).
"I had complete faith in my team, and I knew we would step up and do what we needed to do," said the Bulldogs senior leader.
Ramirez led all players with 16 kills, and Marchino added 13 of her own, including four in the decisive fifth game.
The loss ends a streak of nine consecutive years in the county final for WMHS and Head Coach Charlie Ferndandes.
"I’ll say this about these kids, they’ve been through a lot this year," Fernandes said. "Last time we were in this room, we had four kids in different spots. We changed everything around, the kids bought in and did the work and played good volleyball."
Perhaps the biggest move of the contest came before game three, by Lindenhurst (16-2) Head Coach , who tinkered with the lineup that had dropped the first two.
"I switched my centers around and where I had my two hitters," she said of the moves.
One of them included allowing Ramirez more freedom on the court, as she played in an expanded role on .
"Rachel’s only a junior, but she came ready to play today," said Block. "She normally only plays front row, but she looked ready, so I played her all the way around."
Ward Melville (16-3) came out flying, winning a tightly contested first game before blowing out the Bulldogs in game two. Fernandes called a timeout in game one with his team trailing 20-16. The Patriots responded by scoring six of the next seven points to give them the win and momentum that carried over into game two, a lop-sided 25-14 victory.
"We talked about some of the things we’ve been working on, our defense, moving our feet and not watching other people play," said Fernandes. "We played aggressively the whole night. [Lindenhurst] made some nice plays, and played fantastic defense. In good volleyball you trade punches. We played well; what can you do."
"They really came ready to play," said Block. "It’s the county semifinal. He’s always been here. They come to play."
The Bulldogs stormed back with two strong victories of their own before a back-and-forth affair in the final game. With Ward Melville clinging to a 17-15 lead, Marchino rattled off three straight kills to give Lindenhurst a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
"She stepped her game up big time," Block said of Marchino. "She started to push the kids to play harder."
Lindenhurst will face , who swept West Islip in the other semifinal, in the Class AA finals on at 8 p.m. at Saint Joseph's College.
Earlier this season the Bulls won the only meeting between the two teams in four games, but Marchino seemed to be more focused with it being part of a larger goal.
"It’s my senior year; all I want to do is win," she said. "My goal is a state championship, and I’m not going to stop until I get it. We have to step up, but if we play like we finished today, they shouldn’t be a problem."
Editor's Note: Take a peek through the Lindy Lens at the of Lady Bulldogs' semifinals win on