The boys of Lindenhurst volleyball are used to being backed into a corner with no margin for error. Trailing two games-to-none to Half Hollow Hills, they flipped the switch from Jekyll to Hyde once again.
And befitting their status as Suffolk's best team, the Bulldogs dominated the final three games of Wednesday night's League I clash to win, 21-25, 21-25, 25-13, 25-11, 25-18.
Travis VonHolt had 17 kills and six blocks, and Gerard Gigante added 11 kills and 15 digs as the undefeated Bulldogs (9-0), 4-0 in five-game matches, clinched the League I title.
"We've lost to Hills in prior seasons, and now we've established ourselves as the number one team, beating them twice this year," Gigante said. "We locked up the league championship, so we're good to go."
Hills (5-4) had an early 6-1 lead in the opening game, surviving a few Lindenhurst mini-rallies until Denzel Williams took over serve at 20-18. His jump-serve ace split the defense and extended the lead to 21-18.
Returning serve at 23-21, Calvin Manchenko (13 kills, five blocks) responded with a kill, and then at point-game, Vance Tuminelli finished things off with an emphatic kill of his own.
Manchenko took over Game 2, as his block with the score tied at 10 began a run of four consecutive Thundercolts points. He added another block at 22-20, and three points later, a Lindenhurst service fault gave Hills a commanding two games-to-none lead.
After winning Game 3, the Bulldogs rode that momentum to an equally dominant Game 4. VonHolt played the role of eraser in the middle, swatting back weak returns and painting picture-perfect kills with equal ferocity.
"I dish it out, and there wasn't a lot of blocking on me tonight," VonHolt said.
With the score tied at 16 in the deciding Game 5, the Bulldogs scored nine of the match's final 11 points. Fittingly, VonHolt ended the match with a near-unstoppable kill that capped yet another comeback.
For Lindenhurst, coming back from the brink has become second nature.
"I have 100 percent confidence in my team," VonHolt said. "I know that, no matter what, we'll win."
- Live Games