The East Rockaway girls volleyball team swept Malverne 3-0 to win the Class C Playoff Finals Tuesday night.
The Lady Mules came out strong, jumping to a big 18-8 lead in Game 1 of the best-of-five series at SUNY Old Westbury, but were soon 'rocked' by the resilient East Rockaway squad.
Senior middle back Lindsey Dinowitz had two of her six kills for the match and setter Katie Barto provided the assists to propel East Rockaway to take the lead and ultimately the victory with a score of 25-23.
That come-from-behind win gave the Rocks momentum going into the second game. The girls jumped out to a quick 14-7 lead. Senior outside hitter Becky Italiano held her serve five times in a row throwing in a couple of aces to stretch the lead to 20-10. Italiano had four aces, four kills and four digs in the match.
The Lady Mules made a small comeback as setter Sara Robinson and middle hitter Danielle Hinds kept the ball alive and forced an error out of East Rockaway. They cut the lead to 22-15 before the Lady Rocks got their act together and took the second game 25-18.
With their backs against the wall, Malverne started off the third game on a good note,taking an 8-5 lead. But Italiano punched in her fourth kill of the game to tie the score up at 12. Hinds had a couple of tips at the net and sophomore outside hitter Olivia Schmidt added some nice shots of her own to help East Rockaway.
The Lady Mules fought back again and were a point away from taking the game, 24-20, but as they had done throughout match and all season, East Rockaway took control and won the game, 26-24, and the match(25-23, 25-18, 26-24).
"The girls worked hard all season and it culminated with them being the County champs," said East Rockaway head coach Ksenia Ferrand. "I'm very proud of them today."
She added that her teams dramatic comeback in the first game helped ease the pressure going forward. "We came back from a significant deficit, 18-8, in the first game and it set the tone for us the rest of the match."
Malverne's coach, Kim Rossi, was proud of her teams' effort and how far they had come this season. "This is the second time Malverne has made it to the playoff finals. I believe the last time was 1991," said Rossi. "We had a goal in mind to start the season and we achieved it by being able to put a banner in our gym."
She said senior setter Sara Robinson was a work-horse on the court, going anywhere to get the ball. "Sara put in an all-out effort, all the time and my outside hitter, Karen Ulysse, really stepped up for us in the playoffs with her improved hitting."
East Rockaway advances to the Regional finals and will play Mattituck on Friday, Nov. 18 at St. Joseph's College at noon.