For the last seven years, our volleyball team has put together one of the great dynasties in a century of Stony Brook athletic history. The numbers from their run border on absurdity:
- 4 straight PSAA Championships
- 5 tournament championships in seven years
- 7 consecutive undefeated regular season championships
- 9 consecutive playoff victories
- 42 consecutive home victories
- 48 consecutive league victories (school record)
Our volleyball team is inevitable. They expect victory yet never underestimate an opponent. When they are challenged, time and again they simply raise their game to a height that cannot be matched. They are powerful. They are skilled. They are coolly detached from the pressure of the big moments. They walk into any gym with a deep, yet quiet confidence that no one can hang with them. They celebrate each other. They pummel their opponents and somehow garner their respect and admiration in the process. They are leaders. They are winners.
Winning on this scale can become boring or unappreciated, but the way this team wins sets them apart from other teams who achieve at a high level. They model the way we desire Stony Brook athletes to compete: strive for victory, but know that it is not the most important thing; become a better person through your striving and respect your opponent and the game in the process. Our girls live out the Stony Brook Way in every spike, ace, and dig.
Yesterday afternoon, in a packed Swanson Gymnasium, our girls overpowered Heschel in a 3-0 sweep for their fourth consecutive PSAA crown. In a rematch of the 2019 title game, the Bears maintained the standard that Liz Robbins, Bekah Detwiler, and Shannuel Lamptey helped establish, by cementing their status as the queens of the PSAA. The Bears swept the Heat twice during the regular season but were pushed in each match by Heschel’s resilient defense. Getting out to an early lead was going to be important, and the Bears did just that. The hosts got a quick 3-2 edge behind a Niamh Scanlon ace and several Heschel errors, before seizing control with an 11-0 run. Behind the serve of Ava McCormick and three kills from Lilly Keegan, the Bears ran out to a 14-2 lead and did not look back. The Heat failed to return three straight serves from Sandy Tao for an 18-4 lead. A kill and three straight aces from Keegan built a 22-5 margin, and consecutive kills from McCormick, including one that ricocheted off the ceiling, capped the 25-9 opening win.
In set two, Heschel came out with renewed fight that kept the Bears from running away. Ties at 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, and 5-5 followed before an Ella Middlekauff block and three straight points from Keegan gave the Brook an 11-7 cushion. Heschel battled back to knot the contest at 13-13 which raised the energy on their sideline, but it would prove to be their last point of the round. A 12-0 Bear surge followed that began emphatically with a Gillian Bernier spike into the deck. Keegan followed with a kill off a receiver and out of bounds before McCormick dunked a ball straight down for a 16-3 lead. A Keegan roll shot prompted a Heschel timeout, but the break could not slow the Bear assault as Bernier registered an ace on the next point. Three more kills from Keegan, a McCormick touch kill, and a ball out of bounds gave The Brook a 25-13 win and a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five match.
In what proved to be the final round, the Bears grabbed a quick 3-0 edge thanks to a Scanlon ace and a McCormick spike, but the Heat refused to go down and battled back later in the set for a 15-15 tie. Knotted once again around the midpoint of the match, the Bears unleashed another run that would seal the championship. The Blue & White grabbed the next point on a long rally to usher in a 10-0 run. Two errors from Heschel preceded a Middlekauff dunk to give The Brook a 19-15 lead and force a Heschel timeout. The Bears grabbed the next four points behind a McCormick ace, a Middlekauff spike, and a Keegan kill off a pair of blockers to move within two points of the title. A second Heschel timeout desperately tried to stem the tide, but it only delayed the inevitable as Keegan fired two more kills to bring the Swanson faithful to their feet in appreciation of another peerless performance. Keegan’s 22 kills, 20 digs, and 2 aces fueled the Brook, earning her Championship MVP honors, but the contributions were everywhere for a team that is as deep as it is talented.
They now await their seed and opponent for next week’s NYSAIS State Tournament which should be released on Saturday.
Photos by Jackson Loo
- Kills (42): Keegan (22), McCormick (10), Bernier (5), Middlekauff (2), Scanlon (2), Nikki Carlo (1)
- Digs (62): Keegan (20), Bernier (16), Georgia Apazidis (15), McCormick (5), Scanlon (4), Middlekauff (1), Tao (1)
- Aces (7): Keegan (2), Scanlon (2), Bernier (1), McCormick (1), Tao (1)
- Blocks (5): McCormick (2), Middlekauff (2), Carlo (1)