The Susan Wagner girls volleyball team had just made history by winning the school’s first ever PSAL Class A title and the senior-laden squad wanted to soak in the moment for as long as they could.
They met in a circle for one last time, tears streaming down their faces as they screamed their familiar pregame chant: “Let’s Go Crazy!”
“Accomplishing this just feels so good,” senior outside hitter Julia Bogdan said. “With this group of girls, it’s so amazing. I love them so much.”
Top-seeded Susan Wagner beat No. 2 Bronx Science, 27-25, 25-18 to capture the title Tuesday night at York College.
After five straight trips to the semifinals, the Falcons can finally say they are champions.
“You’re about to see physically and literally the biggest baby because I’m all choked up,” Wagner coach Marco Altieri said. “These girls deserve this championship…It feels great. I hope the school is proud and I’m so proud of the girls.”
Although Wagner finished the season undefeated in PSAL play, the team had its share of adversity. In fact, in the week leading up to their second appearance in the finals in three years – Wagner lost to Cardozo in 2010 – Bogdan was questioning her ability.
“We needed her to be big and she really was big today,” said Altieri, who wondered to himself if Wagner would ever get over the hump and finally capture the crown.
She was just that, forming a devastating one-two hitting punch with fellow senior outside hitter Karolina Gajda, who battled through a shoulder injury for much of the season. Bogdan had 16 kills and nine digs, while Gajda added 13 kills and 19 digs, clinching the match with one last kill.
“Stats to me don’t matter,” Bogdan said. “As long as we come out and we win and do our best, it’s the best feeling in the world.”
Susan Wagner (14-0), ranked No. 4 in New York City by MSG Varsity, won an epic first set with Bogdan pushing the winning point over the net after Bronx Science (13-1), ranked No. 5 in New York City by MSG Varsity, staved off three set points on kills by senior Mary Platt, who had 13 kills.
“It definitely was a negative not to pull that one out, but you have to go into the next set with a good mentality,” Platt said. “We tried to shake it off and just move on.”
That was easier said than done, though, as Susan Wagner raced out to a 4-0 lead in the second set, clearly carrying over that momentum from the emotional opening set.
“That momentum helped us get our energy even higher up than it was,” Bogdan said.
With senior Kristine Ciurcina (31 assists, five digs) setting up Bogdan and Gajda, who were hitting with power and accuracy and sophomore Karley Sarcone (14 digs) seemingly digging every ball hit her way, the Falcons never trailed in the second set.
And that was welcome news for Altieri.
“I couldn’t have gone a third set,” he said. “I would have dropped dead.”
With junior opposite hitter Daniella Blyakhman and Sarcone returning next year, Susan Wagner should be in the mix for another title.
But there can never be another first champion, something that isn’t lost on Ciurcina.
“To finally win one, being on the team for four years and working so hard, just to see our hard work finally paying off is a great feeling,” Ciurcina said. “It’s a great feeling to know we’ll have the first white banner hanging on our gym walls.”