CLIFTON PARK — Next time, Nick Pascual will make sure he’s more hydrated.
As the Shenendehowa boys’ volleyball team completed a massive comeback Wednesday against Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, rallying from four points shy of being swept in three sets to being on the verge of its own five-set win, Pascual was a ball of energy, with both his play during points and his constant hype-man attitude following them.
Five points from the improbable victory, Pascual — who said he drank “way less water than I should’ve” during the course of Wednesday — felt something pop.
“Oh, it was a terrible cramp,” Pascual said. “Both legs. I came down and I couldn’t get back up.”
Pascual spent the remaining points being stretched out on the bench, but he never lacked any confidence that his teammates would finish off the effort.
“They promised me they were going to finish this,” Pascual said. “For me, and everyone else on the bench, they were going to close — and I trusted them. I didn’t have a doubt in my mind.”
That’s exactly what the Plainsmen did, rebounding from a slow start and pulling themselves from the brink of defeat to pull off an 8-25, 22-25, 26-24, 25-22, 15-9 victory over their fierce Suburban Council rivals.
It was a statement win for a Shenendehowa (7-1 Suburban Council, 10-2-1 overall) team that suffered its first league loss of the season last week against Columbia and followed that up by being swept in two sets by Burnt Hills in a tournament at the Spartans’ home gym on Saturday.
“Over the course of this weekend, we’ve taken a step back,” Pascual said. “We’ve gone back to tryouts, basically, basics. We’ve slowed things down. You can see it in our play. We’re not going as fast as we normally would. It’s hard, going from such high-octane gameplay to bring it back, but making sure that we lower the errors and take care of the fundamentals means a lot.”
As much as the win was about the Plainsmen cutting down on errors, the comeback was also fueled by emotion.
Pasucal and libero Nick Barrese were constant sources of energy, firing up their teammates as every point began to swing the match in their direction.
“I just tried to get everyone hyped up,” Barrese said.
Bennett Wilson finished with nine kills, Pasucal had eight and Bradyn Pomainville added seven in a balanced attack for Shenendehowa.
Ben Pearce had 11 kills and Aidan Calhoun posted 28 assists, four blocks and four kills for Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (7-1, 9-2).
The Spartans looked dominant early, breezing through a struggling Shenendehowa team in the opening set and holding off a comeback attempt in the second before things started to slip away.
“They brought that focus in, and we kind of let ourselves get sort of complacent,” Calhoun said. “Just back on our heels.”
Burnt Hills was four points away from a three-set sweep up 21-18 in the third when Shenendehowa coach John Coletta called a timeout.
“Let’s have fun,” Coletta said. “Enjoy the moment and play simple.”
Out of the break, Shenendehowa ran off five straight points to take the lead before eventually taking the set to keep the match going. The tide continued to swing in the fourth set, and in the winner-take-all fifth, Shenendehowa’s undeniable momentum carried the day.
“That’s ridiculous,” Barrese said. “Everyone from the bench, to the floor. It was crazy. We had a lot of people step up.
“It’s ridiculous that we pulled that off.”
Set scores: 8-25, 22-25, 26-24, 25-22, 15-9. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake highlights: A. Calhoun, 28 assists, 4 blocks, 4 kills; Pearce, 11 kills, 3 aces; L. Calhoun, 9 kills, 4 blocks; Sweet, 17 digs. Shenendehowa highlights: Wilson, 9 kills; Pascual, 8 kills; Barrese, 12 digs; Osborne, 18 assists; Connors, 18 assists; Pomainville, 7 kills.