GLENS FALLS, NY − For most programs, waiting five years to win another state championship is a blessing, but for Burnt Hills, it was something that was a long time coming.
"If any group has ever deserved anything, it would be this group," said Burnt Hills Head Coach Gary Bynon. "With our program being here 18 times in a row, there's expectations, and that's hard. It's a special thing to be one of these 20 teams to come out here to Glens Falls. These kids have put so much time in and they deserve this opportunity to celebrate being the best in the state."
"We traveled almost 2900 miles this fall to prepare for this weekend, and it's been led by these seniors," said Bynon. "Three months and six days of just not a single bad day. We'd go out and traveled so much to prepare for this weekend, these kids are amazing, and when you go out and beat an unbelievably tough West Irondequoit team − at 24-19, there's not too many teams that give you a run and they did and good for them."
Burnt Hills claimed the Class A New York State title Sunday, November 24, at the Cool Insuring Arena thanks to a three set sweep over West Irondequoit, the sectional champion from Section V. Burnt Hills won the first set by a score of 25-17, the second set 26-24, and the third set 25-22.
Burnt Hills has now won seven state titles since 2002. They were back to back champions 2011, 2012 and 2004, 2005, but had not won another since 2015.
"It's unbelievable that 365 days ago on a Saturday I didn't feel great," said Bynon on returning to the Championship Final after falling in pool play last year. "We never made it to Sunday."
Burnt Hills came out in the first set and stormed ahead and never looked back.
The second set ended up being the most pivotal of the match. Tied for the whole set, whenever Burnt Hills was able to generate momentum and take a two or three point lead, West Irondequoit was able to close the gap and knot things back up. With a 24-24 tie, Burnt Hills was able to lock down and get the final two points they needed to close out the set and need just one more win to claim their state title.
"It was a weird set. We always think that if we can get up by five or six, and pass, we are siding out, but it was always two, then it was three, then it was one, but we kept that momentum," said Bynon. "I thought that ball took forever to hit the ground − What a big win. How many times in a best out of five that game two is the most pivotal?"
Bynon was not only impressed with his teams ability to continue to claw and scratch for the second set win, but to be able to come back and face West Irondequoit again after taking two sets Saturday from them in pool play.
"That's an awful tough thing," said Bynon. "Our kids came out strong in game one and that's that team. They know what they are going to do and they are going to go after it."
Player of the match for Burnt Hill was Carlie Rzeszotarski. The sophomore outside hitter hit her 500th kill of the season while helping Burnt Hills claim the state title.
"I was the manager of the team that was the last state champion," said Rzeszotarski. "When they won that I understood that it was a big deal, but I didn't know how big. I remember our setter Jess Fowler was next to me in the picture, and I was just a little sixth grader, and she kept repeating, 'I'm so happy, I'm so happy,' and now I know exactly what that feels like."