"Side Out" has been the Raiders rally cry all season, a reference to the team's efforts to donate to the "Dig Pink" initiative of the Side Out Foundation that benefits breast cancer.
They might want to consider changing it to "down, but not out."
The Raiders (10-4) clawed back from four deficits in the decisive fifth game to overcome East Islip on Thursday afternoon, 3-2 (19-25, 25-23, 25-12, 22-25, 25-23).
"There was quite a range [of emotions]," said Raiders head coach Carrie Gangl. "I think we went from kind of being down and thinking we were out and then every point we got we started gaining a little bit of steam and a little bit of momentum and once we tied it up, we realized that this was possible. In the timeout I took I said ‘you guys have got to play to win, go for it.’"
Rebecca Gordon led the team with 13 kills, including the final five points in the second game to turn a 20-19 hole into a 25-23 victory.
"That was huge," Gangl said of the huge game two momentum swing. "We weren’t winning that game without that. Five points in a row is a huge swing in volleyball. For one person to do something like that, it’s special."
"It was great," said Gordon. "We were all pumped. Everyone was working together, and it was fantastic. We wanted it so bad and we wanted to fight for everything we had. Coming to school tomorrow is going to be fantastic, knowing we’re the team in our school that’s going all the way."
After trading wins in games three and four, East Islip (9-6) took an early lead in the final game but was unable to withstand a Pat-Med rally. The teams found themselves tied five times in the last game before the Raiders took the final two points to seal the victory.
"There’s never been a home game in this gym for playoffs," said Gangl. "For the first one to be a win, it’s the best thing that could’ve happened for Pat-Med volleyball."
The Raiders advance to face Smithtown East, the top overall seed in the Class AA bracket, on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
"I think we’re looking to stay at this level, to play like this and with momentum on your side and not get down," said Gangl. "We’re going against the number one seed so there’s going to be times where they get points in a row. We need to remember that no matter how many points we may be behind, you can always come back."