ALBANY – Fifty-two weeks after reaching a plateau never achieved before by a Section III boys volleyball team, Jamesville-DeWitt was again bent on going all the way and, by doing so, reaching perfection.
And that’s exactly what the Red Rams did, surviving some nervous moments in round-robin play before sweeping Long Island’s Westhampton Beach to win its second consecutive New York State Public High School Athletic Association Division II championship Saturday at Albany’s Capital Center.
Undefeated and rarely scared in the past three months, the Red Rams were the clear favorite going into the season’s final test. Just as in 2022, J-D first had to make it through a four-set round-robin with the other two Division II teams present – Westhampton along with Section V’s Spencerport.
As it was drawn, Westhampton and Spencerport played first, and split those two sets. Then J-D faced Westhampton and quickly found itself in trouble as the Hurricanes won the first set 25-22.
For the rest of the day, though, the Rams did not drop a set.
To start with, J-D got even with Southampton 25-21 in the second. Then, turning to Spencerport, the Rams would claim both sets against the Rangers, assuring its return to the championship round.
Waiting for them was Westhampton, but now it was dealing with a Rams side armed with nearly two years of confidence and a strong all-around game that would prove too difficult for the Hurricanes to stop.
During the opening set, J-D only dealt with one early deficit, controlling matters the rest of the way and taking that set by a 25-20 margin.
Westhampton tried to answer, taking an 8-4 lead in the second. But after taking a timeout, the Rams went on a 9-2 run and were not seriously stressed again, winning the set 25-19.
One set from the finish line, J-D would find the third to be, by far, the most difficult. Down 12-8 early, it again rallied, went up 21-18, only to have the Hurricanes pull back even at 23-23.
With a championship point at 24-23, the Rams could not end it. Eventually it got to 26-26 before J-D got back the serve and, this time, was able to get the last point – and another state title.
Tim Cooper again set up points, earning 46 assists overall. Leading a deep and talented front line, Luke McQuaid earned 15 kills and Avery Kielbasinski added 13 kills, with Aaron Ko getting nine kills, Cam Moynihan seven kills and Phoenix McBride four kills. Ko led the defense, earning six digs.
In order for a state championship three-peat to take place in 2024, a great senior class, led by Cooper, McQuaid, Ko, Moynihan and McBride will need to be replaced, a group that went 41-2 over two years and brought glory back to J-D.