MONTROSE The last time Panas came to Hendrick Hudson High School, the Panthers had to sit back and watch the Sailors celebrate head coach Diane Swertfager’s 500th career win after being swept.
This time around, the Panthers were the ones celebrating after handing Hen Hud its first loss of the season, 25-22, 25-15, 25-18, in a battle between two state-ranked teams and the top-ranked lohud teams in the section, respectively.
“They already had the cake ready (when we lost last year) and everything, so it was really nice to beat them,” Panthers sophomore libero Sabrina Patriciello said.
Hen Hud (10-1) clawed for every point in the first set; even the ones it didn’t get. After three girls ran into the Sailors’ bench chasing a loose ball, Swertfager had to visibly stop her players from doing so.
Then the switch flipped off, at least on the offensive end.
“I think we stopped attacking,” Swertfager said. “We started giving free balls or tips right at them — it’s not the smartest offense. That is nothing we went over.”
The Sailors defense was exceptional against Panas’ high-powered offense, but trying to stop sophomore hitter Yvette Burcescu proved to be too tall of a task. Burcescu finished with 29 kills in the sweep, headlining a Panther offense that earned 57 of its 75 points.
“It’s a good win,” Felipe said. “Anytime you’re beating a Diane Swertfager Hen Hud team, that’s a good win.”
Player of the game: Yvette Burcescu, Panas: The sophomore outside hitter was not only overpowering, but versatile in her attacks on offense, mixing in an array of power swings and tips to throw off the Hen Hud defense.
Turning point: Panas trailed 6-5 in the second set, then rolled to a 19-13 lead before taking the game. That scoring run put the Panthers in position to take the second game and A crucial two-game lead over the Sailors.
Stat line: Burcescu was the obvious star of Panas’ offense, but Bridget Walsh and Melissa Lussier added five kills and four aces, respectively. … Zoe Staats and Kristin Loh each had nine kills for the Sailors. Georgia Lee added three aces.
Quotable: “If we have to have that loss, we want to make sure that everybody else has at least that one loss,” Felipe said.