DELMAR It wasn’t the Bethlehem boys volleyball team’s best performance of the season, but it was more than enough to handle Section I champion Suffern.
The Eagles (25-1) rammed through the first two sets 25-15 and 25-13 before completing the three-set sweep by edging the Mountaineers 25-22 for the Class A regional title Saturday in Delmar.
“We didn’t have our A game today,” said Bethlehem coach Rick Arket.
Suffern went through a lot just to get to Saturday’s regional. The Rockland County town was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy nearly two weeks earlier, leaving some without homes and many without power. Then a Nor’easter struck in the middle of last week, which complicated matters with snow and wind. The Mountaineers didn’t play their Sectional final until Thursday and had only one day of practice before making the trek to Delmar.
“We’ve had a tough run the past couple of weeks, but we can’t make any excuses,” said Suffern coach Kim Cleary. “We came in here hoping to play well.”
“We certainly feel for them and their situation in Suffern, but you have to look past that once you’re on the court,” said Arket.
Bethlehem made it difficult for Suffern to get anything going in the first two sets. The Eagles’ blend of power and court sense helped them force the Mountaineers into several mistakes.
“It really started with our passing,” said junior setter Kevin Mahar, who led Bethlehem with 20 assists. “When you give a good pass, it gives the hitters a really good ball to hit.”
It appeared the third set would go the same way after senior Sam Powers served Bethlehem to a 4-0 lead. Powers collected a pair of aces during the opening stretch.
Suffern rallied back on Tom Sharp’s serve to grab a 5-4 advantage – its first lead of the match. The Mountaineers extended the lead to 11-8 following a series of Bethlehem mistakes, but the Eagles scored eight of the next 11 points to pull ahead 16-14. Suffern kept it close for a while before freshman hitter Aaron Carrk closed out the match with his team-leading sixth kill.