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.”


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.


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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10/25/12 8:07pm
10/25/2012 8:07 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Rebecca Lessard was one of three Riverhead seniors honored Thursday before a match against West Babylon.

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.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead junior Megan Brewer goes up for the hit Thursday against West Babylon.

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.”

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead sophomore Joscelin Morrow celebrates a Blue Waves point.

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.


10/11/12 11:02pm
10/11/2012 11:02 PM

BILL LANDON PHOTO | McGann-Mercy libero Rachel Klink dives to dig out a serve from Greenport Thursday.

CLIPPERS 3, MONARCHS 0 (28-26, 26-24, 25-13)

As the Greenport/Southold Clippers prepared to take the court for the start of Thursday night’s match at McGann-Mercy, an unexpected ceremony unfolded.

Mercy’s four seniors greeted the Clippers at their bench with a gift: a yellow rose for every player and coach.

Attached to the rose was a note, which read: “We may be opponents on the court, but when the game ends, and we go our separate ways, there’s no reason why we can’t be friends.”

It’s a tradition the Monarchs started this season. The seniors hand out the roses to their league opponents when they play their final game against them.

It caught the Clippers by surprise.

“It kind of touched my heart a little bit,” said Greenport senior Shelby Kostal. “It was a nice gesture.”

A collective “Awww!” from the Clippers filled the gym when the Monarchs began handing out the roses.

“I love roses,” Greenport coach Susan Kostal said afterward. “They’re my favorite.”

When it came time to play, the Clippers fought through a sluggish start to sweep Mercy 3-0 and improve to 7-1 in League VIII. The loss dropped Mercy to 3-6 in League VIII and facing an uphill battle to reach the postseason.

The Clippers found themselves dealing with some early jitters a day after clinching a playoff spot.

Part of it had to do with who was in attendance. The head coach from SUNYIT (Institute of Technology at Utica/Rome) was on hand to watch outside hitter Shelby Kostal play. Kostal said she visited the school a few weeks ago as her college search begins to heat up.

“I have no clue where I want to go,” she said. “It’s a hard choice because there are so many teams out there, so many different programs and you don’t know which one you’re going to fit into.”

Kostal said she’s known since her freshman year that she wanted to play volleyball in college.

“It kind of runs in my family,” she said. “But I didn’t really start hammering down and thinking about it until the start of my senior year.”

She put on an impressive performance Thursday, helping lead the Clippers to come-from-behind victories in the first two games. The Monarchs were a point away from winning Game 1 and two points from taking Game 2. The Clippers came back from a 21-15 hole in Game 2.

Greenport prevailed 28-26 in Game 1 and 26-24 in Game 2 before putting it all together for a runaway win in Game 3, 25-13.

The Clippers thought the Monarchs could give them trouble with their freeball style of play. Without any heavy hitters, the Monarchs shy away at times from the traditional set/serve routine in favor of quick hits to try to land the ball into no-man’s land.

“I always get nervous playing Mercy,” Susan Kostal said.

The Monarchs stick to their strengths and it worked for them throughout the first two games.

Shelby said the freeball style makes it hard to predict where the ball is going.

“Usually when a hitter goes up to hit you can read her arm and where you’re going to hit,” she said. “But when they send that freeball over, anywhere can be the spot. It’s hard to practice for that.”

Mercy coach Jamie Calandro said it’s about relying on smarts.

“They use their best skills to their advantage,” he said.

The Monarchs scored back-to-back points in Game 1 on a kill from junior Fiona Nunez and ace from senior Caitlyn Walsh to make it 23-20. The teams traded points, putting Mercy one away from the victory. But the Clippers fought back to tie it and the teams continued to trade points until it was tied at 26. Greenport scored the next two points to finally prevail.

“I think Mercy came out to play and they played really hard,” Shelby said. “I think we just had to settle down. For some reason we were so nervous and uptight.”

Mercy led by as many as eight in the second game and appeared on the verge of tying the match. But after the Clippers got the ball back following a Mercy service error, senior Nina Papamichael rolled off seven straight service points. It put the Clippers ahead 23-21. Senior Megan Van Gorden ended the game shortly after with an ace to give the Clippers a commanding 2-0 lead.

Calandro said the key for the Monarchs is controlling their emotions on the court.

“We’ve been battling the balance between emotions and volleyball a lot this year,” he said. “The girls hold themselves to a high standard. Sometimes when they feel like they don’t meet that standard, it falls apart.”

Greenport gets right back at it Friday with a non-league match against Mattituck. The Monarchs have a long break before returning to action Oct. 23 against Ross. The Monarchs will need to win their final three league matches to reach the playoffs.


09/28/12 8:00pm
09/28/2012 8:00 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead libero Joscelin Morrow has helped solidify the Blue Waves’ defense.

FALCONS 3, BLUE WAVES 0 (25-13, 26-24, 25-21)

As a libero — the defensive specialist in volleyball who wears a different color shirt than her teammates — Riverhead sophomore Joscelin Morrow doesn’t get opportunities to hit at the front of the net. The position restricts her to the back row, but it doesn’t mean she still can’t hit.

As Morrow showed off in Friday night’s 3-0 League IV loss at home against Deer Park, she has the ability to deliver strong hits from the back row, despite the difficult angle and the fact she’s not as tall as most of her teammates.

It’s a unique skill, one that makes her that much tougher on the court.

“You can’t count her out,” said Riverhead coach Amy Bullock. “She’s all over the floor. As she gets older she’s going to be a big key for the program. She’s a great all-around player.”

Ultimately as a libero her role is about defense. And nearly every time the ball came soaring across the net Friday, Morrow was there to dig it out.

At the beginning of the season Bullock talked about serve receive being a key for the Blue Waves. Without it, it’s impossible to get the good set and a strong hit.

“Having her has been a great impact for our defense,” Bullock said.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead outside hitter Hali Martens goes up for the hit as Deer Park’s Laura Santare attempts to block.

The defending league champion Falcons (2-3 League IV) provided a strong test for the Blue Waves, who after a sluggish first game battled closely. Riverhead dropped the first game 25-13 before playing two entertaining back-and-forth games that could have gone either way. Deer Park won Game 2, 26-24, and closed out the match with a 25-21 win in Game 3.

The Falcons advanced to the quarterfinals of the Class A playoffs last season and return several key players from last season, including some tough hitters. Junior Julia Connolly, the League IV Rookie of the Year last season, had a strong game for the Falcons as an outside hitter.

For the Blue Waves, they’ll try to build on the positives from the second and third games.

“It’s back to the basics again,” Bullock said. “Working on our defense and getting our balls up to target.”

The Blue Waves (1-3 League IV) were on the verge of evening the match in the second game. They led nearly the entire game, including 22-19. The Falcons rallied for the next three points and tied it with a big block in the middle from the duo of Sam Pazenbeck and Alex Santora.

Riverhead got the next two points, including one on a kill from outside hitter Hali Martens, to get within one point of victory. But the Falcons got the next four points to steal the game and take a commanding 2-0 lead.

Martens provided most of the kills for Riverhead and has been a huge part of the offense all season, Bullock said.

“She’s been moving well, attacking well, her confidence has definitely improved big time from last year,” she said. “I tell her that she wants to be the go-to girl with our attack.”

The Falcons took control of Game 3 behind Connolly on the serve. She had four straight service points, capped by an ace, to give Deer Park a 13-9 lead after Riverhead opened up with a fast start. The Falcons never relinquished the lead, although Riverhead kept it close. After a kill from middle hitter Megan Conroy and ace from Allison Fox, the Blue Waves closed to within a point at 16-15.

But they couldn’t get any closer.

Bullock said Conroy has made big strides this year as well.

“Her movement has improved really well,” she said.

The Blue Waves couldn’t get much of anything going in the first game. Bullock called an early timeout after Deer Park scored the first four points, but it still took until the second game for the Blue Waves to get some momentum.

“It’s like we were the away team when we started off,” Bullock said. “All credit to Deer Park. They came out strong after a long bus ride. We were sleeping, a little bit slow. We didn’t move to the ball and the biggest thing, we didn’t communicate.”

Bullock said the way the team bounced back in the second and third games shows the Waves can compete with good teams.

“They came back really strong,” she said. “They got the pass up, which is what we needed from our serve receive and we were able to get a couple balls, but not enough.”


09/27/12 9:00pm
09/27/2012 9:00 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | AnneMarie Taggart digs the ball out for Shoreham-Wading River Thursday against Mattituck.


The score after Game 1 of Thursday afternoon’s match between Mattituck and Shoreham-Wading River was as mystifying for the Tuckers as it was the Wildcats.

For two young teams still trying to navigate their way back to last year’s level of play, the League VII match figured to be tightly contested.

No one could have predicted the outcome of Game 1, a 25-3 walloping by the Tuckers over the Wildcats, igniting a three-game sweep at Mattituck High School.

“When we walked away with that [Game 1] win, I told the girls, don’t think it’s going to be that easy,” said Mattituck coach Frank Massa. “If you think that then you’re going to start letting down a little bit.”

While the Wildcats slowly began to get their legs under them as the match progressed, it wasn’t enough to avoid the sweep. Mattituck won Game 2, 25-13, and the final game, 25-19.

Shoreham coach Katherine Winkler said it was the first time all season the Wildcats opened a match so flat.

“I guess you could chalk it up to young, rookie mistakes, but it’s really not what we’re about,” she said.

The Tuckers (2-3 League VII) dominated early thanks to outstanding serving by Courtney Ficner and Emily Reimer. Ficner rolled off 11 straight service points, several aces included, that gave the Tuckers a 15-2 lead. Reimer closed out the game by serving nine straight points.

The Wildcats were left scrambling all across the court. Sloppy passing made it impossible for Shoreham to get any kind of offense going.

“We served tough that first game,” Massa said. “That was about the toughest I’ve seen these girls serve.”

Massa said that Ficner, a senior in her second full season on varsity, can serve the ball to any spot on the court.

“It’s got that top-spin on it and she hits it hard, low to the net,” he said. “When she’s on, nobody knows where the ball is going.”

While the Tuckers were strong on the serve, it wasn’t anything the Wildcats (1-3 League VII) hadn’t seen this season. Winkler said Shoreham scrimmaged against Mount Sinai Tuesday and opened the match flat before dominating toward the end.

It was the first sign Winkler saw this season of a slow start and it was enough to raise some concern prior to Thursday’s match.

“We had a huge talk before this game,” Winkler said. “You can’t waste that time warming up in the first game. You need to come out and be strong immediately.”

By the time the Wildcats got their first bit of momentum in the match, they trailed 20-5 in Game 2.

AnneMarie Taggart got the Wildcats going with three straight aces for Shoreham. She also had four aces during a stretch of nine straight service points during Game 3 as the Wildcats rallied from an eight-point hole to take a 16-14 lead. It was the largest lead for Shoreham since scoring the first two points in Game 2.

It was the kind of lull that had plagued the Tuckers throughout the season.

“A lot of our games had that section in every game we played,” Massa said. “The first two games was probably the best passing we’ve done this year both off the serve and free balls. I was really hoping we could have made it through the match without going through a stretch like that.”

The Tuckers rebounded from their one tough stretch in the match and regained the lead behind the serve of Sara Perkins.  Mattituck never relinquished the lead after going ahead 18-17.

Massa said the Tuckers got Perkins back a week ago from an injury. In last year’s Long Island Championship match, Perkins was huge on the serve for Mattituck, Massa said.

“When she gets back there she has that same type of serve, very low, hard, fast and top-spin,” he said.

Winkler said Taggart, one of three captains for Shoreham, was uncharacteristically off at the beginning of the match. After taking a breather during the second game, Taggart returned the court focused.

“She was thinking too much,” Winkler said. “We had to calm her down and give her the confidence she needed and then put her back out there. When we did that she was so much better. She went out in the third game and played like the game she plays every day.”

While the Tuckers don’t have many wins to their credit, they battled through a tough non-league schedule against some tough competition like Eastport-South Manor and Westhampton.

“Hopefully that pays off in league play where they’re used to playing a lot of games against good competition,” Massa said.