ROCHESTER -- Zach Brosnick has a tough job for the Eden boys volleyball team. But he serves the role well.
As the Raiders’ serving specialist, his playing time lasts as long as he is precise on the service line. Brosnick made sure he saw a lot of the court during Saturday’s New York State Public High School Athletic Association Division II Far West Regionals at Webster Schroeder in Rochester.
The junior propelled Eden to a big Game Two comeback, serving out the final six points – including two aces – to erase a 23-19 deficit. It was the key to the Raiders’ 25-20, 25-23, 25-17 sweep of Section V’s Spencerport in a rematch of last year’s regional matchup, won by the Rangers.
"You’re asked to do one thing, and if you fail, you’re done," said Robert Pierce, Eden’s longtime coach, about his ace server. "And (Brosnick) comes in and puts them on their heels and before we know it, we win the game.
"If that goes 1-1, then you start to create some doubt and you create some momentum for the opposing team."
Eden’s redemption against Spencerport (19-5) sends it to the state final four for the first time since NYSPHSAA implemented a full state tournament in 2010.
Defending state champion Penfield defeated Lockport, 21-25, 25-23, 25-20, 25-23, in the Division I Far West Regionals bout at Webster Schroeder following Eden’s triumph.
Collin Rigley led the Raiders (22-3) with 13 kills to go with five digs and two blocks while Drew Hesse had seven kills and 11 digs. Tome Filkov added 12 kills for Eden.
Then, of course, there was the brilliance of Brosnick, who was especially perfect in this one.
"I come in thinking that this is my time where I can control the game," Brosnick said.
The New York State boys volleyball postseason structure featured a regional state intersectional tournament with teams from Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Albany before the championships expanded in 2010 to involve participation from sections across the entire state.
Eden has multiple intersectional titles during Pierce’s 20-plus years piloting the Raiders. But this is Eden’s first state berth under the current format. With three sectional titles since 2010 and several excellent squads in that span, the proud program finally got over the hump.
"I didn’t know if I’d ever go," Pierce said.
"To do something that’s never been done in Eden history, you don’t get a chance to do that a lot because we have such a storied past," Rigley said.
Eden is set to compete in the state final four Saturday at Suffolk County Community College.
Lockport (17-1) fell in the nightcap to a strong Penfield squad (20-1) in a back-and-forth match.
Zach Schneider (14 kills, 13 digs), Rhees Perry (19 digs), Jesse Donorovich (nine blocks, eight kills and seven digs) and Sean Denniston (10 assists) paced the Lions.
"It’s a great group of guys," Lockport coach Elizabeth Smorol said. "They don’t give up, ever."
While Smorol said the teams were evenly matched, she feels the officiating wasn’t as level. The Lions’ coach said she believes the Patriots were not penalized for using "deep dish" sets, where players hold the ball while setting for longer than normal.
"There is nothing you can do about it because that’s how they play (in Rochester)," Smorol said. "… I just really think it was a little biased.
"You have to play through it the best you can and we just came up a little short."