WILDCATS 25, 25, 19, 25, TUCKERS 21, 18, 25, 18
Maddie Massa had made the drive from Shoreham, along Sound Avenue and into Mattituck, many times before. Countless times. This time was different, though.
When Massa was a youngster, perhaps 5 or 6 years old, she tagged along with her father, Frank Massa, the longtime coach of the Mattituck High School girls volleyball team. She recalled running around the gym during practices, catching volleyballs and having the time of her life. “Oh my gosh, it was so much fun,” she said.
The circumstances surrounding Tuesday’s drive to Mattituck were interesting, to say the least. This time Maddie Massa was going to Mattituck as a member of the Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats to play against her father and his Tuckers.
So, what happens when a daughter plays against her father’s team?
Well, in this case, her team wins.
For the second time this season, the volleyball battle of the Massas fell in favor of Maddie Massa and Shoreham-Wading River, which won in four games.
Emma Houlihan crushed 13 kills, Chelsea Hughes put away 10 balls herself, and Tori Robinson recorded 24 assists as the Wildcats produced a 25-21, 25-18, 19-25, 25-18 Suffolk County League VII win. Shoreham (5-4, 4-3) had also taken three of four games from the Tuckers (5-7, 3-4) in its season opener on Sept. 19. Because their teams had previously played in different leagues, the Massas had never faced each other on the volleyball court before this year.
In that first meeting, Maddie Massa played setter. On Tuesday she was the starting libero. The senior produced three service aces and kept 12 of her 13 serves in play. The only serve she missed came after her father called timeout in an attempt to ice her after she had aced a jump serve in Game 4.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Maddie Massa said after the match. “I’m really glad I got to go out my senior year playing my dad, which is something that I wanted to do ever since I started playing high school ball.”
Frank Massa, who is in his 25th year as Mattituck’s coach, acknowledged that it was a strange situation to be in, on the opposing side of her daughter, “especially since you always want your kid to do good, so how do you hope that she doesn’t?”
Maddie Massa indicated that she felt conflicting feelings, too, knowing some of the Mattituck players as she does. She cited an instance when one of Mattituck’s outside hitters, Kelly Cassidy, was hit in the head by a hard-driven ball, and she was concerned about how Cassidy was.
As did her team, Maddie Massa played well. She plays like the daughter of a coach, technically sound, a reliable passer with a good all-around game.
“Maddie is an excellent player,” Shoreham-Wading River Coach Katherine Winkler said. “She’s very versatile. She can play any position on the court and she plays it very well. She knows every position on the court and it benefits me because I can use her wherever I need her, and she’s always going to give 100-percent effort.”
Winkler could relate to what the Massas experienced. Her uncle, Don Consorte, is the Eastport/South Manor coach, and she has coached in matches against him.
“I think it’s awesome,” she said of the Massa vs. Massa showdown, which added spice to the match.
Houlihan, a senior who is headed to the University of Southern New Hampshire on a scholarship to play volleyball and lacrosse, has been a presence on the varsity team since she was a freshman.
“Emma’s an excellent player,” Winkler said. “She’s one of the smartest, if not the smartest, player on the court because she can go up there, see the open spot before she hits the ball. Every time she touches the ball, almost always, it’s a kill.”
Houlihan’s full match included five aces, four blocks, three dinks and an assist. She was also 20 for 22 in the serving department.
Claire Finnican put down 11 kills and Dominika Kupiszewska had 12 assists for the Tuckers.
Although the Tuckers have lost 10 players from last year’s team, which reached the New York State Class C semifinal pool for the first time, they are hanging in there in a league that appears well-balanced competitively.
“I think we’re doing really good,” Mattituck’s senior libero, Jackie Hinrichs, said. “We’ve kept up with most of the teams, so I think we’ll go far.”
But Tuesday wasn’t the best day for the Tuckers.
“I thought we played terribly,” Frank Massa said. “We didn’t have it today at all. We came off of a really good match against Bayport and our passing was down. Our serving was certainly down.”
“It’s a roller coaster right now,” he continued. “We’re playing real good one day and not so much the next. We have to strive for more consistency.”
Trash talk was reportedly flying around the Massa household before their first match in September. Maddie Massa can’t have any complaints about the outcomes of the two matches.
“I’m happy about it,” she said. “I’m feeling that my bragging rights aren’t going to go too far, but it will be a good joke in the house for a little while.”
Well, Frank Massa may not be laughing too much about it.
“I hate losing against family more than anybody else,” he said, “but I guess I’ll get over it.”