Newfield swept Riverhead in a Suffolk County League III girls volleyball match on Monday. The host Wolverines won, 25-19, 25-12, 25-14.
Newfield swept Riverhead in a Suffolk County League III girls volleyball match on Monday. The host Wolverines won, 25-19, 25-12, 25-14.
As a student teacher last year at Pulaski Street Elementary School, Kristin Andrejack got the opportunity to work alongside varsity volleyball coach Amy Greene and assist her former team. Andrejack, a 2010 Riverhead graduate, will step into a bigger role this year as the team’s head coach.
CLIPPERS 25, 25, 25, MONARCHS 13, 23, 14
Jenna Standish had been looking forward to Senior Day 2014 ever since she was a freshman. The senior outside hitter and her teammates on the Greenport/Southold high school girls volleyball team found the wait to be a worthwhile one.
Standish made a special day even more memorable by her fine all-around play as the Clippers took down Bishop McGann-Mercy in three games and eliminated the Monarchs from playoff contention on Thursday. The playoff-bound Clippers played what their coach, Mike Gunther, said was one of their best matches of the season, a 25-13, 25-23, 25-14 win in their final home match of the regular season at Greenport High School. (more…)
BULLS 3, BLUE WAVES 0
Recapturing last year’s jubilant run to the playoffs, the first in three seasons, was always going to be a challenge for the Riverhead Blue Waves this season. On top of losing several of last year’s key players to graduation, the Blue Waves bumped up a league, pitting them against a host of new, and as they’ve quickly discovered, talented teams. (more…)
This year Riverhead High School’s girls volleyball team has been moved from League IV to League III, where it will play against bigger schools. In trading places with Centereach, Riverhead is the only newcomer to League III, a mystery team to the rest of the league, if you will.
Riverhead coach Amy Greene likes that.
“We have nothing to lose this year and everything to gain because League III knows nothing about us,” she said. “… I think they should see us as a threat.”
SUFFOLK CLASS AA TOURNAMENT | PATRIOTS 21, 25, 25, 25, BLUE WAVES 25, 13, 14, 14
The Riverhead and Ward Melville girls volleyball teams might have wondered if Halloween 2013 would bring them a trick or a treat. The truth is, the spectators were the ones who were in for a treat.
Playoff volleyball on Halloween.
“It doesn’t get any better than that,” said Riverhead coach Amy Greene.
And not many teams are better than Ward Melville. It was favored Ward Melville that won the entertaining, well-played playoff match on its home court Thursday. After dropping the first game, No. 6 seed Ward Melville took the next three games for a 21-25, 25-13, 25-14, 25-14 victory in the Suffolk County Class AA Tournament first-round match.
No. 11 Riverhead (11-5), playing its first playoff match in three years, knew it was in for a tough match against Ward Melville (12-2), which reached the state tournament last year for the eighth time in team history. The Patriots are co-champions of League I along with Sachem East.
It looks as if Ward Melville has the ability to return to the state tournament this year.
“I feel good about them,” the team’s 15-year coach, Charlie Fernandes, said. “I do. I feel like we’re a very good team. I think we’ve been a little overlooked. I’m fine with that. We know what’s going on in our gym.”
Riverhead experienced it firsthand, and gave a good account of itself in the process. The Blue Waves went with a starting lineup of Megan Brewer, Dezarea Brown, Hali Martens, Joanna Messina, Danielle Thomas and Sara Tucci, with Joscelin Morrow playing libero. They won the first game, a tight, back-and-forth affair in which Ward Meville committed 15 unforced errors. The Patriots did not look happy as they headed to their bench before the start of the second game.
“I think we woke up some beast,” said Greene.
Ward Melville then raised the level of its play noticeably. The Patriots never trailed in the second and fourth games and were behind only briefly in the third game.
“They got a little scare put into them, and that’s not always the worst thing,” Fernandes said. “I liked how we finished today. We have a tendency sometimes to run really hard and maybe taper off when we get a five- or six-point lead. We kept coming today.”
Carly Backiel, a junior setter, provided the Patriots with 38 assists.
The Patriots have hitters, too. With Backiel’s accurate setting, Ward Melville put away 36 kills, 14 of them coming from Amanda DiGirolamo and 9 from Alex Stein, to wrap up its fifth straight win. Leigh Gulbransen went 26 of 28 serving with 4 aces.
“Alex Stein can bury a ball,” Fernandes said. “Christine Donat can bury a ball. Amanda DiGirolamo almost is so good that you don’t notice how good she is. She’s so quietly effective. The kid hit like .500 tonight.”
Tucci had 22 assists for Riverhead.
Players on both sides were committed on defense, flinging themselves to the floor to pop up balls and digging drives that often don’t come back. It surely wasn’t the sort of volleyball that is played at the family picnic.
“It was good volleyball,” Fernandes said. “… Big-kid volleyball is what I call it. We were blocking and swinging at each other, and that’s what you want to do. It’s intense. It’s in your face.”
Fernandes was complimentary of the way Riverhead played. “I think Riverhead is a program on the rise,” he said. “I have to give a lot of props to their coach. I think she’s doing a great job. … She has that program on the right path.”
What has helped Riverhead the most this season?
Brewer didn’t hesitate to provide an answer. “Hard practices,” she said. “We definitely go hard at practice. Our coach really works us.”
Greene said she is constantly pushing her players to improve. That may explain the team’s strong showing this year.
“This season has probably been the best I’ve seen Riverhead play,” said Greene, a former standout for the Blue Waves who went on to become an All-Conference outside hitter at Eastern Connecticut State University. “We finished the season as strong as they possibly can. They should have no regrets. I have no regrets. They put their hearts out there, and even in that last game, that fourth game when we were down by so much, they never gave up.”
The loss marked the end of the high school playing careers of five Riverheaders: Allison Fox, Brewer, Martens, Thomas and Tucci. They leave the team with some nice memories.
“I couldn’t ask for a better season,” Martens said. “It was just great. We’ve come so far. I’m just like happy that we even made it to playoffs.”
BLUE WAVES 3, FALCONS 1 (23-25, 25-14, 25-14, 25-12)
There was never a thought of if the Riverhead girls volleyball team would clinch a playoff spot. For coach Amy Greene, it was only a matter of when.
As the Blue Waves celebrated in the aftermath of Friday’s playoff-clinching win over Deer Park at Riverhead High School, Greene had a surprise for her players: white T-shirts proudly proclaiming the Blue Waves are playoff bound.
“These were a surprise,” said senior Hali Martens after the team posed for photos in their new shirts. “We didn’t know we were getting them, so I guess coach had a lot of faith in us.”
The Blue Waves had four matches remaining beginning Friday and needed just one win to guarantee their first playoff trip since 2010.
“I tell them I have more confidence in them than the world,” Greene said. “So I believed that they were going to get there. Whatever game they got there, those shirts were going to come out for them. It’s a little extra boost.”
For the five seniors on varsity it’ll be their first time playing in a playoff match. The playoffs are slated to begin Oct. 31.
“It’s awesome because we’ve always been the underdog,” Martens said. “Now we came back and we’re better than ever.”
It almost looked as if the T-shirts might have be stored away for at least another match when the Falcons came out and took Game 1, 25-23, after holding off a late rally from the Blue Waves.
It was the fourth straight match Riverhead lost Game 1, but the Waves bounced back to dominate the rest of the way. Riverhead won the next three games 25-14, 25-14, 25-12.
Greene said a pep rally at the end of the school day to kick off homecoming festivities might have zapped some of the team’s energy.
“I think the girls were a little bit drained from exerting all their energy there and then coming into here,” she said. “We just needed to wake up a little bit on the court again.”
Deer Park came into the match with only one league win on its resume. But the Falcons (2-10 overall) came out strong, not giving away any easy points to Riverhead (9-3 overall) and forcing the Blue Waves to make plays.
Martens said improving communication on the court was a key to the turnaround.
“The loss kind of motivated us,” she said.
Martens had a big day playing outside hitter for Riverhead with 6 kills and 10 digs. Junior libero Joscelin Morrow had 41 digs and 6 service aces.
Late in Game 2, with the Falcons still hanging around, Morrow and Martens both came up with several big plays to close out the game. Morrow took the serve with Riverhead ahead 20-14. The Blue Waves closed out the game with five straight points, including a Martens kill and ace from Morrow. Middle hitter Megan Brewer delivered the final point with a kill.
In Game 3, Riverhead jumped ahead 12-4 and never looked back. Game 4 was similar as the Blue Waves led 10-1, then 17-3.
“Once we [woke up], they were relentless,” Greene said. “They were all over the floor and they were exciting to watch.”
There was some good news with the return of sophomore Dezarea Brown, who had missed a few matches with an ankle injury, Greene said. Brown played sparingly in the middle as Greene wanted to bring back along slowly.
“She came back and it was like she never left,” Martens said.
Greene said Brown’s return just adds to the Blue Waves’ depth. In her absence junior Rachel Clement got more playing time.
Senior Sara Tucci had 20 assists and a pair of service aces for Riverhead.
“She does a great job getting to the ball,” Greene said. “She put her body out on the floor a few times. And she hustles to set every ball.”
With one goal complete now in making the playoffs, the Blue Waves will turn their attention to the next goal: closing out the regular season with three more wins and beating Bellport Oct. 28.
The Clippers, who are 8-1 in league, defeated Riverhead in a grueling five-set match two weeks ago.
“Our goal is to beat Bellport,” Martens said. “That’s a really big goal we have.”
BLUE WAVES 17, 25, 25, 25, REDMEN 25, 17, 20, 18
The Riverhead High School girls volleyball team did not exactly get off to a rousing start against East Islip on Thursday, playing sluggishly while losing the first game.
You might say the Blue Waves were feeling, well, a bit blue due to the aftereffects of a tough loss to Suffolk County League IV leader Hauppauge last week.
That lackluster start did not last very long, though, as they bounced back in fine fashion, winning the next three games against the hosts to put themselves on the verge of reaching the Suffolk County Class AA Tournament for the first time in three years.
“It was a big-time win,” Riverhead coach Amy Greene said. “We have four more games left and we need to win one of them to make the playoffs. It’s good.”
To qualify for the postseason, teams must finish at least .500 in their league.
“It would be great to get to the playoffs again,” senior middle hitter Megan Brewer said. “I went to playoffs as a freshman, but we haven’t been there since.”
Riverhead (8-3, 5-3) hardly looked like a potential playoff team early on. After dropping the first game, 25-17, the Blue Waves won the next three over the Redmen (6-6, 3-4) — 25-17, 25-20 and 25-18.
Junior middle hitter Rachel Clement finished with 8 kills and 1 block. Junior libero Joscelin Morrow contributed 35 digs and 2 kills. Senior setter Sara Tucci added 21 assists and 16 digs, and Daniele Thomas had 5 kills and 16 digs.
But it took a while to get rolling.
“I think the regret of last game really took a toll on us,” Morrow said. “But I think it was a good warmup for the rest of the game and we put it together really well.
“Today was really important to build back our confidence. … We really needed to be the aggressor in that game. I thought we were a little timid, but we’re starting to get back that aggression … and not let them get the advantage.”
Instead, it was the Blue Waves who took advantage.
“After we picked it up it, we started playing our tone of volleyball,” Greene said. “We like to keep things fast. The faster we play, the better we are and the louder we are. When we picked up the momentum a bit we played a lot better.”
Morrow played a vital role to snap Riverhead out of its early doldrums.
“She picked it up for us, especially in that second match when we were trying to get going,” Greene said. “She was our boost on defense, picking up the ball. She was all over the floor. We can always rely on her back there to read the hits and be there. She did a nice job of that. Also in the front row, I think Megan Brewer did a real nice job at the net today, with blocking, with transitioning off to give us some kills.”
Riverhead became stronger as the match progressed and it showed in the final game. Leading by 17-16, the Blue Waves secured 6 consecutive points on Brewer’s serving to move into a commanding 23-16 lead, and never looked back.
“I was picking spots a lot more today,” Brewer said. “I have been getting better as the season goes on.”
“That leadership to take the aggression really spread to all of us,” Morrow said. “That gave us that push to finish it.”
The Blue Waves won’t have to play again until they meet Deer Park next Friday. They were scheduled to have a competition, though, a team scavenger hunt on Friday, Oct. 11. The team will be broken into smaller groups as a parent will drive them through town.
“We have to get a certain amount of things that we are asking people,” Morrow said. “It will be like a person in a yellow shirt and [we] say, ‘Can we take a picture with you?’ And then we’ll get points and win stuff.”
The winners will win goody bags.
Moreover, the Blue Waves will gain some more camaraderie.
“It’s more of just team bonding, getting the girls together and going to hang out,” Greene said. “I know they’re looking for that final prize at the end, which is that goody bag.”
If the chemistry is real good, then perhaps the real prize could be the Blue Waves reaching the playoffs for the first time in three years.