East Islip believed it had executed the crucial blow, a go-ahead kill that would have provided a one-point lead and serve for match point in the deciding fifth game.
The officials, however, ruled that no piece of the ball had crossed into East Islip territory before the hitter made contact. That gave No. 8 Patchogue-Medford match point, which it converted to beat No. 9 East Islip in the first round of the Suffolk Class AA girls volleyball playoffs Thursday, 19-25, 25-23, 25-12, 22-25, 25-23.
Amanda Dill (nine) and Meagan Anderson totaled 15 kills for Pat-Med (10-4), which plays No. 1 Smithtown East in a quarterfinal at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. "To have a win like this is huge," Dill said. "Last year, we lost in the first round and we just wanted it so bad. We couldn't lose."
As for the close call that helped decide matters, East Islip first-year coach Stacie Wixted said her team could only accept it and move on. "It's upsetting, but you know what, we shouldn't have let it get to that point where we worry about those calls," she said.
This season represented a seismic improvement for East Islip (9-6), which went 0-12 in league play last season. And with only two graduating seniors, Wixted sees this season as the start of something special.
"Now we have something to build on," she said. "Other girls will be interested in playing, we'll get some kids to play club ball and hopefully be contenders in the next couple of years."
After splitting the first two games, Pat-Med ran through East Islip in Game 3. An ace from Dill made it 21-9, and after a kill from Claire Urizzo clinched the game, Pat-Med looked to be in charge.
But the team faltered in Game 4, as three late services faults and a net fault allowed East Islip to force a fifth game.
But Pat-Med regrouped to move on. "We don't let each other get down on themselves," Anderson said. "Even after a bad game, we go in the huddle and say, 'We're not going to lose.' "