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Eden boys volleyball wins state championship

Eden boys volleyball’s final day of competition was grueling and nerve-racking, featuring a pool play tie-breaker and a back-and-forth five-set championship game. Coach Robert Pierce said the hurdles just made the victory even sweeter.

The Raiders left Long Island Division II state champions for the first time in school history.

“We’re playing schools that are not only two, but sometimes three times bigger than us,” Pierce said. “I wasn’t sure Eden was ever going to get there.”

After winning the first set of the final, the Raiders lost two straight, 25-19 and 25-21, to Bellmore JFK. With its back against the wall, Eden rode hot starts in the final two frames en route to a comeback victory. The Raiders won both with room to spare, 25-20 in the fourth and 15-8 in the fifth.

“We were fortunate to catch some momentum in game four,” Pierce said. “Our defense finally started to pick up.”

The match ended with a Drew Hesse spike that a Bellmore JFK defender couldn’t wrangle. The Eden players celebrated as they watched the ball ricochet off his chest and toward the stands.

The Raiders needed a tie-breaker to even get to the final. All three Division II teams, Eden, JFK Bellmore and Burnt Hills, were 2-2 in pool play. Eden advanced since it had the most points, while the other two schools played a set to 25 to see who would meet the Raiders.

Collin Rigley was named the tournament’s most valuable player. He notched 19 kills and three aces in the final. Gavin Musielak (45 assists), Hesse (21 kills, 2 aces) and Tome Filkov (15 kills) were named to the all-tournament team.

In pool play, the Raiders defeated Burnt Hills 25-18 in the first set and lost 25-22 in the second. Against JFK Bellmore they lost the first set 25-22 and won the second 25-21.

This trip was Eden's first to the state final four.

“We started this back on Aug. 20 with a crew of guys (and) we didn’t know what we were going to be,” Pierce said. “All the pieces came into place.”

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