BLUE WAVES 3, EAGLES 0 (25-18, 25-21, 25-3)
Only a few words into her speech, Riverhead junior Megan Brewer began to tear up. On Senior Night at Riverhead High School Thursday, Brewer spoke about her sister Amber during a pre-game ceremony in what’s become an annual tradition for an underclassman to honor a senior.
Junior Danielle Thomas followed with an equally emotional speech about Megan Conroy. And finally it was junior Hali Martens’ turn to talk about Rebecca Lessard.
All the while, the tears never stopped flowing.
“It was really emotional,” Amber Brewer said after the match. “It made me feel so good to hear all that stuff. I wasn’t expecting it at all. I just cried right away.”
Amid all the tears, a volleyball match against West Babylon awaited.
It didn’t take long for the Blue Waves to get rolling as they jumped out to a 12-3 lead in Game 1. The quick start helped propel the Blue Waves to a three-game sweep as they ended their final home game of the season with a 25-18, 25-21, 25-3 victory.
Riverhead coach Amy Bullock said she was worried at first whether the girls could overcome the emotion of Senior Night to focus on playing.
“They came out and used that emotion in a positive way,” she said.
The seniors said the motivation of playing their last home game helped them.
“You want to win your senior game,” Lessard said.
The Blue Waves accomplished that while improving to 4-7 in League IV and 5-8 overall with one match remaining on the road against Half Hollow Hills West. A win against the Colts would have the Blue Waves finish the regular season one win short of qualifying for the playoffs.
Bullock said this year’s team has been a tight-knit group all season.
“This group of girls cannot be duplicated,” she said. “They’re definitely one of a kind.”
“We’re playing more as a team this year than we did last year,” Conroy said.
Early in the third game after Riverhead led the match 2-0, the three seniors went to the bench where they held clipboards and tracked stats.
Sophomore Joscelin Morrow got the serve with the Blue Waves ahead 8-2. By the time junior Hali Martens delivered one of her team-high seven kills, the score had ballooned to 20-2.
With the girls on such a run, the seniors never even got a chance to get back into the match.
“We were on such a roll,” Bullock said. “We didn’t even get to rotate. I think there was only two rotations that time.”
The seniors said the underclassmen on the court worked really well together.
“It’s good to know that when we leave, we’re still leaving behind a good team,” said Conroy, who had five kills.
Morrow led the team with 12 digs as the libero, a position Lessard used to play. With Morrow moving up to varsity this season, Lessard switched positions to outside defense.
“[Morrow] is obviously amazing,” Lessard said. “They all helped me learn my rotation and get into the groove of it.”
With only three seniors graduating, the Blue Waves will return an experienced lineup next year. Junior Sara Tucci (21 assists) helped get the offense rolling for the Blue Waves and she’ll be a key returner next season.
“We basically have an entire lineup for next year,” Bullock said. “Offseason, if they keep working on getting our passes up to target, it’s a very promising season next year for those girls.”
Martens threw down some of the biggest hits of the match Thursday, something the Blue Waves have grown accustomed to this season.
“Her snap and her arm swing is probably one of the best,” Bullock said.
For Amber Brewer, the final match for the Blue Waves won’t be the end of her volleyball days. A three-year varsity player, she plans to play at Suffolk Community College next year. Conroy said she’s looking into possibly playing in college as well.