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Susan Wagner narrowly escapes with 2-1 win over MSIT in battle of undefeated girls’ volleyball teams

By Nick Regina | nregina@siadvance.com

Susan Wagner (7-0) and McKee/Staten Island Tech (5-1) each entered play undefeated atop Staten Island’s PSAL standings on Thursday night, so something had to give as the Falcons narrowly escaped with a 2-1 (20-25, 25-21, 25-23) victory.

The Falcons, who have finished a perfect 14-0 in each of the past three seasons en route to capturing the last three Island crowns, dropped their first set of the entire season on Thursday as MSIT pulled out a 25-20 opening set.

The Seagulls, who have finished second with 12-2 records in each of the past three seasons (which have each included at least one loss to Wagner), seemed to have momentum, and a packed gym, on their side.

MSIT scored the first five points of the set, and opened up a lead as large as 18-7, though SW rallied to tie it at 19-19 before the Seagulls pulled away.

“[MSIT] came out on fire and we had to reach back to match it,” said SW assistant coach Jason Ilkowitz. “I think we were grinding it out. It was a wakeup call, but we kept our spirits up, we knew we had a fight ahead of us.

“We have a lot of respect for Coach [David] Mahon and MSIT,” added Ilkowitz. “It was such a great atmosphere and I’m lucky to be apart of it.”

After dropping the first set, where the floor appeared to be more spaced out, the game began to favor Susan Wagner’s style of play as both teams creeped closer to the net in set two.

“We’re taller and we play bigger so that helped us get better attacks,” noted Ilkowitz. “[MSIT] hit good spots and found open holes.”

Ilkowitz also credited a light practice on Tuesday for his team’s play in the second and third sets.

“We hoped it would give us more energy,” said Ilkowitz.

And it did -- after falling behind 10-7 in the final set, Wagner opened up a 19-16 advantage, only to see the score knotted at 23-23 moments later. Nevertheless, the Falcons prevailed with the final two points on Thursday.

Alexandra Mnatsekanov and Julia Perkowski teamed for 14 kills, while the latter added eight service points.

Antonia Greco piled up 25 assists, while Sarah Chung stuffed the stat sheet with 13 service points, 12 digs, and 11 kills.

“A win like this...I’m proud of the girls and how hard they fought,” said Ilkowitz. “[MSIT] brought everything they had and more, I’m so proud of how both teams fought.”

The two teams will do it all over again when they meet on Oct. 29.