For one set, the Sachem East boys volleyball team could not have played worse. Errant passes and service faults thrust them into an early 1-0 hole, and the team that had been swept by archrival Sachem North three days earlier looked like it had not recovered.
Somehow, East (2-1) flipped the switch, rebounding to defeat Northport in non-league, 19-25, 25-19, 25-22, 25-19.
Randall Colson had eight kills and six blocks and Nick Laffin added 13 assists and nine kills.
"After the Sachem North loss, we were all shaken up, and then Commack didn't give us much of a challenge, but we got the win," Laffin said. "The first set, we were kind of scared because we know Northport has a good team with a lot of club players."
The Tigers (1-1) could do little right after the first set.
"Our energy level dropped," said setter Pat Gathman, who had 44 assists.
Northport fell into an 18-9 hole in the second set, then sliced the deficit to four on five consecutive service points from Brady Ambro. The Tigers made it as close as 19-16 before East pulled away.
After winning the third set, Colson shouted, "One more!" Losing the fourth and playing a decided fifth wasn't an option.
"We had the momentum, and we were getting every ball," Colson said. "The back row did such a great job. Everybody was there for the tip and the long ball. And if the back row is doing it, then you know the front row is going to be bringing it as well."
The Flaming Arrows' win signaled yet another shift in their young season. The Sachem North defeat was deflating. Beating Northport, one of the county's top teams, could change their outlook.
"This was so big," Laffin said. "I mean, watch out other teams. Northport is a good team, and we took them in four . . . We can play better than we did tonight, so other teams better watch out."