09/16/13 7:13pm
09/16/2013 7:13 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Fiona Nunez supplied Bishop McGann-Mercy with 15 service aces, 8 kills and a dink against Greenport/Southold.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Fiona Nunez supplied Bishop McGann-Mercy with 15 service aces, 8 kills and a dink against Greenport/Southold.

MONARCHS 25, 20, 25, 25, CLIPPERS 16, 25, 12, 18

Anyone who was in the Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School gym about 90 minutes before the Monarchs’ home-opening match on Monday would have gained insight into the behind-the-scenes life of a girls volleyball coach. For Jamie Calandro, that involves dealing with one mini-crisis after another: trying to figure out how to operate a new control panel for the scoreboard, finding replacements for broken net antennas and, oh yeah, does anyone know where the padding is for the referee’s stand?

As Calandro dealt with one issue after another, he would have been relieved to know that one thing he wouldn’t have to worry about was the play of his team.

Every point in a match starts with a serve, but with McGann-Mercy, many of them end with a serve.

The Monarchs demonstrated their serving prowess by taking the League VIII opener for both teams, 25-16, 20-25, 25-12, 25-18. McGann-Mercy recorded 40 of its 95 points on aces. Fiona Nunez (15) and Amanda Blacknik combined for 28 aces themselves. By comparison, Greenport/Southold totaled 5 aces.

“It’s huge,” Nunez said of the importance of serving. “Without serving, there’s not much you can do.”

With that in mind, McGann-Mercy (1-1, 1-0) has spent a lot of time working on serving in practice, and it appears to have made a difference.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Greenport/Southold's Marina DeLuca swinging at the ball while Bishop McGann-Mercy's Fiona Nunez attempts a block.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Greenport/Southold’s Marina DeLuca swinging at the ball while Bishop McGann-Mercy’s Fiona Nunez attempts a block.

“Our practices have been: serve, serve receive, repeat; serve, serve receive, repeat,” said Calandro.

McGann-Mercy put 66 of its 94 serves (70.2 percent) in play, with Blacknik going 23 for 28 and Nunez 20 for 22.

Aside from serving, the biggest difference between the teams may have been experience. Seven of the nine Monarchs are seniors and the other two are juniors. The Clippers, on the other hand, have only one senior (Ashely Billera) who hasn’t played in a while, and six players who made their varsity debut Monday in the team’s season-opening match.

McGann-Mercy may have the strongest team during Calandro’s 10-year run as its coach. Six of the Monarchs played for the team last year, but Nunez, Blacknik and Rachel Klink were the only ones who saw regular or semi-regular playing time.

McGann-Mercy lost a four-year varsity player and all-county setter, Kaylee Navarra, to graduation. Regina Viola, who was the junior varsity team’s setter last year, has shown she has capable hands, registering 15 assists on Monday. Also, Calandro has raved about outside hitter Katie Nolan, who he said “has stepped up to be an absolute force for us.”

First and foremost, though, is Nunez. The senior captain supplied 8 kills and a dink to go with her tough serving.

“For our first league game, you know, I mean still two weeks into the season, I thought they were in very good form,” Calandro said. “They showed that they had very impressive individual skills and I think the loss in the second game woke them up, and [they] saw that they had to play team volleyball, too. Then the passing was right on and the serving was right on, and they were in a rhythm.”

The sort of rhythm that the young Clippers never found. Nerves were a factor.

“It’s a lot of nerves, so we just have to get over that,” Greenport/Southold’s libero, Sam Henry, said. “Other than that, I think we played really well. We need to work more as a team, but I think we’re getting there.”

What Greenport/Southold coach Sue Kostal took away from the match was the sense that her team needs to learn how to play under varsity pressure. Henry, Marina DeLuca and Kendra King were the only Clippers with previous varsity experience. Kostal said she has juniors who lack on-court experience. “These are juniors who have been on the bench, and now they’re on the court, and it’s a completely different animal,” she said, adding that her young players have the ability but just need confidence.

A big plus for the Clippers was the play of Henry.

“I think Sam played awesome,” Kostal said. “She kept us in the game most of the time with her passing, and her serving was outstanding.”

Sydney Mulvaney had 10 assists for Greenport/Southold.

Kostal knows that young teams tend to progress dramatically, and it sounds as if that is just what she expects to happen.

“We’ll be a completely different team by the end of the season,” she said confidently. “Guaranteed.”

bliepa@timesreview.com

09/12/13 1:33pm
09/12/2013 1:33 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead junior Joscelin Morrow digs a ball as senior Hali Martens looks on.

The key to the Riverhead volleyball team this season starts with defense. And the defense starts with junior Joscelin Morrow.

Last year, as a sophomore playing libero, Morrow was a spark plug for the Blue Waves, who finished the year with all-league honors. She was also named the League IV Rookie of the Year.

“Defensively, she’s everything on the court,” said Riverhead coach Amy Greene. “She’s been playing for so long. She’s loud and aggressive. We’re going to rely on her definitely in the back row.”

In Monday’s non-league opener at home against Shelter Island, Morrow picked up right where she left off last year by recording 30 digs in the Blue Waves’ win.

As the Blue Waves’ defense improves, Greene said the focus is turning more of those digs into points.

The Blue Waves return a lot of experience around Morrow. Senior outside hitters Hali Martens and Danielle Thomas will provide a lot of the scoring. Senior Sara Tucci returns at setter for her third year.

Seniors Megan Brewer and Allison Fox both return as hitters as well. Junior Joanna Messina returns as a hitter/setter.

The Blue Waves will feature a newcomer in the middle in sophomore Dezarea Brown, who has already made a name for herself playing basketball and running track last year. A relative newcomer to volleyball, Brown will provide a big presence at middle hitter.

The Blue Waves came up short of the playoffs last year and have their sights set on making it this year.

“There’s a lot of energy on the court with everybody returning,” Greene said.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River senior Kelly Dillon goes up for a hit before a match against Greenport.

At Shoreham-Wading River, the Wildcats will feature a balanced roster that includes a freshman, four sophomores, four juniors and four seniors.

Oh, and one seventh-grader.

Taylor Morrell, who’s only 12, will make the bold leap to varsity this season and coach Katherine Winkler said the young girl is more than ready to handle the competition.

Morrell’s older sister played briefly at Shoreham before transferring to St. Anthony’s. Winkler said Morrell came down to an open gym practice during the offseason with her sister and instantly impressed the coaches.

Morrell will start the season as the libero.

“She’s going to become such a tremendous player,” Winkler said. “She’s just going to get better and better.”

The Wildcats return some experience in seniors Kelly Dillon (middle), Alyssa Filangeri (right side), Madison Hubner (right side/outside) and Toryn Cairo (outside). All four players are the captains. Dillon is a three-year varsity player.

Sophomores Cristina Iannacchino (outside) and Hailey Wehr (middle) are both returning players as well.

Freshman Sophia Triandafils, who played varsity lacrosse last spring, will start at setter.

“They’re very young, but the thing is they’re extremely talented,” Winkler said.

After advancing into the Class C playoffs last year, the McGann-Mercy Monarchs return a mostly new group this year, a theme that goes for most teams in their league.

The success the team had last year has the girls excited to pick up where last year’s group left off.

“They’re all friends, they talk volleyball on the side,” said Mercy coach Jamie Calandro. “They really have high hopes for this season that we’re going to take it even further than last year.”

Senior captain Fiona Nunez is one of the few returning players who saw a lot of action last year. The Monarchs will rely on her in the middle to be the team’s main hitter.

Seniors Amanda Blacknik (middle) and Kate Lewis (outside) will serve as captains as well.

The Monarchs will also feature seniors Katie Nolan (outside) and Anna Svandidze (outside/opposite). Senior Regina Viola will play setter and senior Rachel klink will play libero.

Viola takes over at setter after the Monarchs lost their all-county setter to graduation. Viola played as the JV setter last year.

“The chemistry is very good,” Calandro said.

One advantage this year for the Monarchs is that they have some height this year, Calandro said.

“We have a much stronger attack and a lot more height,” he said.

Juniors Kassandra Barty (outside) and Emily St. Louis (middle) are the only non-seniors on the team.

Mercy will open the season with a challenging non-league match Thursday against Babylon.

joew@timesreview.com

12/10/12 8:00am
12/10/2012 8:00 AM

COURTESY PHOTO | Riverhead senior Megan Conroy and sophomore Joscelin Morrow, joined by coach Amy Green, received all-league honors at the all-county dinner.

Riverhead senior Megan Conroy and sophomore Joscelin Morrow were honored as all-league players for their performance during the 2012 volleyball season.

Morrow was also also selected as the League IV Rookie of the Year.

Morrow helped anchor the Blue Waves’ defense playing libero. She was a key player on serve receives, but also was talented enough to contribute in a number of other ways, including hitting from the back row.

Conroy was a versatile middle hitter whom the Blue Waves relied on to deliver big hits at the net. She was one of four seniors for Riverhead.

The Blue Waves finished the season 5-8 overall. Their final match of the season was cancelled after Hurricane Sandy disrupted more than a week’s worth of games across the county.

Conroy said after the final home match that she was looking into playing volleyball in college.

11/08/12 9:03pm
11/08/2012 9:03 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Marisa Balbo of McGann-Mercy and Shannon Dwyer of Mattituck meet at the net Thursday in the Class C out-bracket playoff match.

The McGann-Mercy girls volleyball team lost 3-1 Thursday afternoon in a Class C out-bracket playoff match at home against Mattituck. The Tuckers, who are two-time defending Long Island champions, lost the first game before bouncing back and taking the next three.

The Monarchs won a dominant first game, 25-14. But the Tuckers took over from there, winning 25-12, 25-19, 25-13.

The Tuckers advance to play top-seeded Babylon Friday afternoon at 2 p.m. Mattituck lost both matches against Babylon this season 3-0.

Mercy had its final regular season match against Port Jefferson canceled because of the hurricane. The Monarchs would have needed to win that match in order to make the playoffs. But they were able to get in once the match couldn’t be played. Mercy finished the season 5-10.

Mattituck improved to 6-12.

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ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTOS