Head coach Jon DeHay watched as his Cicero-North Syracuse girls volleyball team dropped the third set of Thursday night's Section III Class AA semifinal at Fayetteville-Manlius and had to wonder if an old, familiar tale was repeating itself.
Each of the last four years, the Northstars had reached the semifinal round, only to be stopped, something made more painful by the fact that CNS annually hosts the sectional finals and could only watch as a spectator.
This time, though, the no. 3 seed Northstars would turn it around, using its power and poise to rally past the Hornets in five sets and advance to next Wednesday's title match in its home gym.
Normally, when a match like this goes all five sets, it features close competition for a good portion of the night. However, that didn't transpire here, as the team that won the first point of each set went on to win on all five occasions.
Looking to avenge a five-set defeat to F-M on Oct. 11, the Northstars gained the first four points of the match. Though the Hornets closed within 11-9, CNS regained a margin as large as seven points before claiming the opening set 25-19.
F-M reversed the trend, never trailing in the second set as, this time, CNS was within 11-9 before the Hornets gradually pulled away in a 25-17 decision. That even trade was followed by a one-sided third set where F-M blitzed the Northstars, leading by as much as 15 points in a 25-12 romp.
Once that was done, said DeHay, he implored his players to "do what we do best. They had the talent. It's just a matter of showing it."
Sure enough, in the fourth set CNS, bolstered by lots of front-line power, notched the first four points, just as in the first set, and had the margin to double digits before closing with a 6-1 push to stretch it to 25-10, and the match went to the final set.