Haldane edges Hendrick Hudson in thriller
In a matchup of Section 1 volleyball powerhouses, the Haldane Blue Devils burned a little brighter.
Haldane edged visiting Hen Hud, 3-2 (25-18, 25-23, 17-25, 22-25, 25-22), in front of a packed house on Tuesday.
The Blue Devils (3-1) jumped out to a commanding 2-0 lead, however, the Sailors stormed back to send it into a fifth set.
Haldane coach Melissa Rossano wasn't surprised the match went the distance.
"Hen Hud's always a good team, so you should always expect it to go five if you want to compete with them," Rossano said. "After the first two sets, I think we let up a little bit. But I think Hen Hud realized the situation and stepped up their game."
Haldane senior captain Lauren Etta concurred with her coach.
"Basically, both of our teams are equally matched," said Etta, who was named all-state in 2011. "We knew each other's strengths and weaknesses and that's why it was such a competitive game."
Per usual, Etta paced the Blue Devils, racking up 20 kills, 18 assists, two aces, three digs and one block. Her right arm doubled as a sledgehammer, as she hammered powerful spike after powerful spike.
"Lauren's definitely one of our better players," Rossano said. "This is her fourth year on varsity, so she's been around."
But it wasn't all about Etta. Teammate Claudia Percacciolo — a former defensive specialist — was forced into the role of setter after Sara Chirico went down with an injury. Percacciolo wasn't the least bit fazed against Hen Hud, registering 28 assists, 16 digs, one ace and one block.
"We are still working on some timing, but today it was definitely working," said Rossano, who hinted that Percacciolo might stick as the team's setter.
Becky Garrison (nine blocks, four assists, five aces), Katie Cunningham (seven kills, three assists, one ace, seven digs), Kelly Vahos (11 kills, six digs, five blocks) and libero Gabby Carnabuci (one assist, two aces, 14 digs) rounded out the production for Haldane.
After opening the season with a shocking straight-set loss to Kennedy Catholic, the Blue Devils got their swagger back against Hen Hud. They looked a lot more like the team that captured last year's NYS Class D title.
"That was not a good game for us," Rossano said, referencing the loss to Kennedy Catholic. "I think we were maybe a bit overconfident coming into the season after last year.
"I think it was a wakeup call for the girls that they needed to work together on their teamwork and their skills as a group. We have a lot of individual talent and we have been working on putting it together as a team."
Squaring off against a perennial power like Hen Hud in a playoff atmosphere was just what the doctor ordered.
"Hen Hud's one of our rivals and it was a big confidence boost to beat them," Etta said. "We have to continue working hard all season."
Jessica Pelaccio led Hen Hud with five kills, 38 assists, five aces, eight digs and one block. Teammates Carlee Corkery (15 kills, six digs, six blocks) and Jessica Sincero (13 kills, one assist, three aces, 23 digs) also performed well.
Email Isaac Cass at Icass@cablevision.com | Follow him on Twitter @MSGV_Icass