ALBANY, N.Y. – ¬¬¬¬¬¬There was no tomorrow for the Shenendehowa boys volleyball team, no film sessions, no practice, no road games, Saturday was the last day of the Plainsmen’s season.
The only hiccup was that the afternoon ended too early for Shenendehowa, losing two sets to McQuaid Jesuit and then Sachem North in pool play at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Division I tournament at the Albany Center.
The Plainsmen fell to Section V champion McQuaid 25-23, 25-18 and then after a break, swept by Section XI champs, Sachem North, 25-11 and 25-22, shut out of the tournament finale.
“Our goals, even back in the summer were to be playing the best teams in the state at the end and we met that goal,” Shenendehowa Coach John Coletta said. “We got to be on the court with Sachem, we got to be on the court with McQuaid and to finish in the top three is a good place to be.
“It's a good place to be for the program, for the sport of volleyball in the Capital District, it's very good.”
On almost all pre-game meetings one goal is to go out and get up on an opponent early, that didn’t happen for Shenendehowa, struggling early and then unable to close out the Knights.
“What we showed ourselves is that we can come back from 7-1, which is kind of what these guys have done all year in coming back from deficits,” Coletta said. “To be down 7-1, to be up 22-18 and to force McQuaid to change their game plan, their serving game plan, they gave us the opportunity to take it and we unfortunately misfired at the wrong time. That first set could have changed the story.”
After the close first set for the Plainsmen, McQuaid dropped Shenendehowa, 25-18 and then the locals had more than an hour to regroup as Sachem North then took both against the Knights, 25-20, 34-32.
The sweep would force Shenendehowa to take at least one set against Sachem to have a chance to advance and force a playoff with McQuaid.
Sachem dashed the Plainsmen’s hopes in the third 25-11. Out of the tournament, but with one more set to play, Coletta had to refocus his squad, calling a time out before the first point of the fourth and final set of the season.
“We called that time out to just reset the goal,” Coletta said. “Although we had known we were already out of the championship running for the final game, it was just to reset it like 'Why are we here?
"We are here to represent our school, here to represent each other, our community, our parents, friends, family and let's finish together as a program.”
With Coletta subbing in his bench throughout the final set and Sachem North resting the majority of its starters, the 25-22 final allowed the Plainsmen sideline and its coaching staff to think about the day’s possibilities.
“When you think about points played, everyone was the most important,” Coletta said. “The missed serve, the made serve, the on target pass, the score, their missed serve, they all kind of add up and as far as traveling across the state it’s what we're willing to do to know how we need to play at that next level.
“Traveling down to Long Island, traveling out to Rochester, out to Buffalo, it just part of it, seeing what you need to do to achieve and how hard you need to play. Just when you think you've arrived you realize 'nope' there are people out there doing things at a higher level and I think that's what today can be about. That's the learning, that's the takeaway that if you are going to win these matches you have to go for it, there can be no hold back.”
Part of the disappointment for the staff and its players was not as much about a season ending, but saying goodbye to the seniors that brought the Plainsmen this far – Rohan Gangaraju, Diego Trevino, Trevor Connors, Cameron Mcgarry, John Lapinski, Joe Meyer, Matthew VanDusen and Kellan Kennedy.
“We've got some good happening as far as the depth of our program,” Coletta said. “I am super proud of these seniors, what they did. They had to overcome a lot the last couple weeks to be able to make it to this environment.
“We're going to be really sad to see them go, these seniors, they put in a lot of time in the last couple years together, traveling all over the Northeast, going through seasons together, they're going to be missed. As with every year, we're going to keep working, working on getting better.”