GETTING ALL OF IT — Doug Horbachewski (left) and Hamburg advanced to the Class B sectional final. Photo courtesy of Ron Larson.
The sixth and 12th man are two terms that are often associated with fans, in support of their sports teams. It’s unusual to hear the term “seventh man” associated with fanatics.
With the Hamburg High School gymnasium full capacity, and the noise level through the roof, the Bulldogs’ boys volleyball team swept Grand Island in straight sets on Nov. 2, to reach the Erie County Interscholastic Conference Class B final.
“I love our fans,” Bulldogs head coach Brian Carroll said. “We really have a great community that comes out and supports our team. When we don’t have fan support, our kids really miss it. They love looking up and seeing their parents in the crowd. It makes for a good community day.”
The top-seeded Bulldogs fed off of the crowd and came back in the third set, to beat the fourth-seeded Vikings. They will host No. 3 seed Williamsville South in the Class B final on Wednesday, Nov. 6 with the first of two championship matches starting 6 p.m.
“I feel like we worked way too hard not to make it all the way,” junior Zach Yerrington said. “We work hard, every day, in practice, and I feel like my team and I deserve to be there.”
The Bulldogs shared the ECIC division title at 11 – 1 and earned the top seed in the 20-team playoff bracket.
From chants of “Bulldogs,” to parents’ climbing on others’ shoulders, Hamburg fans were influential in the win.
Play by Yerrington and captains Trevor Vail and Doug Horbachewski led to the Bulldogs’ semifinal victory. Plays by both Ryan Filas and Ryan Dills throughout the game completed the team effort for Hamburg.
“As a team, we just kept getting better,” said Dills, about his team’s work throughout the season. “We’re just happy to be here now, in the finals. We’ve worked hard in practices, so I think we’ve earned it.”
Williamsville South defeated Eden in four games, in the other semifinal. Hamburg beat Eden earlier in the season in three sets, but did not match up against ECIC II’s Billies, all season.
Hamburg beat West Seneca East and Sweet Home, en route to reaching the semifinals. Hamburg players and coaches said they will be ready for the third-seeded Billies, as they hope for another packed house.