BRIARCLIFF – During the third set of Friday’s match at Briarcliff, New Rochelle head coach Alyssa Patti called a timeout and bluntly asked her team, repeatedly, “Do you want this?”
The Huguenots responded by taking the game and a one-game lead before grinding out a 23-25, 25-23, 26-24, 26-24 win over the Bears in their regular-season finale.
“You have to play with heart. It’s all about heart,” Patti said. “I tell them pretty often, ‘You have the talent — that’s not the issue. Do you want it?
“They wanted it.”
Briarcliff head coach Katie Walker echoed those sentiments.
“I think the girls really pushed for every point,” Walker said. “In the end, I think that New Rochelle just wanted it more than us,”
The Bears have found their stride in the second half of the season, despite Friday’s loss to New Rochelle, a Class AA program. The Bears, who play in Class C, have been making their case as a contender for this year’s section title.
“Every single game, you can see they’re getting stronger and stronger and they’re meshing really well,” Walker said.
While Briarcliff still has two more matches to play this season, New Rochelle will now have a week to rest before playing their first-round match in the Section 1 tournament against an opponent to be determined on Wednesday, when the official seeds are released.
With Class AA containing its most parity in over a decade, the Huguenots (10-6) are one of several teams which could catch fire and swipe a section title. New Rochelle went five sets with Scarsdale, the perennial section favorite, earlier this year, taking the first two games before dropping the final three.
“I think that we can win (it all),” said New Rochelle libero Sam Galvin, one of eight seniors on the roster. “Honestly, I think if we’re all on and we all play to our potential, we can beat pretty much any team we face. We just need to believe we can do it.”
Regardless of how far New Rochelle goes in the postseason, it will do it in style.
Galvin sported cornrows after a teammate started braiding her hair and another suggested she go with the hairstyle.
“I was like, ‘Go for it!’ ” she said, emphatically. “I really like it, so I’m going to keep it.”