As far as James Korte knows, the Riverhead High School girls volleyball team has never won a league championship. The Blue Waves coach and his players may want to start contemplating the possibility of that changing.
Granted, there is still a great deal of volleyball to be played, but Riverhead has begun its Suffolk County League IV schedule in fine fashion, winning four of its first five league matches.
“If we get to pick up a win against Bellport, it’s anyone’s league,” Korte said. “That would be huge if we were able to take the league.”
An encouraging showing was made Friday when Riverhead , with accurate passing and a combined 10 assists from Courtney Rheaume and Brianna Gillian, scored a 25-20, 25-21, 25-13 defeat of the visiting Comsewogue Warriors. It was Riverhead ‘s fourth win in six matches.
“I think that was one of our best matches of the season so far,” Korte said. “The girls finally started to communicate on the court with each other. We played some defense, and we got scrappy a little bit.”
Alyssa Meyer of Riverhead went 8 for 9 serving with four aces while Rheaume and Gillian both put 9 of 10 serves in play.
Brianna Fonti went 9 for 9 serving for Comsewogue, which dropped to 2-5, 2-3 in League IV.
The match did not offer any gaudy statistics, but it was satisfying for Riverhead , nonetheless. The Blue Waves started off the first two games trailing, overcoming a 7-3 deficit in Game 2 when it took the lead for good on three straight aces by Meyer.
“We work really hard in practice, and then we show it in our games,” Riverhead middle hitter Fatima Brown said. “We put our heart into the sport.”
Another good sign was the return of Danielle McCabe. McCabe, a senior middle hitter, played her first match for Riverhead since injuring an ankle in a collision with teammate Emily Groneman. Although McCabe isn’t back to where she was before the injury, she still went 8 for 8 serving in the third game, which saw Riverhead bolt to an 18-4 lead.
Riverhead played an improved Comsewogue team that had been winless the previous three years. All that changed, though, when Comsewogue won its season-opener this year, stunning the North Babylon Bulldogs — in North Babylon, nonetheless.
“Nobody was expecting it,” said Fonti, a senior middle hitter in her fourth varsity season. “We won, and everyone was like, ‘Wow!’ ”
It was a breakthrough.
Comsewogue Coach April Quick called the win over North Babylon “phenomenal.” She said: “I felt like the energy was incredibly high. I think we’re still in the building stages of creating a good, strong team, but [it’s] definitely a vast improvement over last year.”
Do the Warriors dare think about qualifying for the playoffs?
“It’s in everyone’s mind, you know,” Fonti said. “It’s this big reach, but I like to think about it, finish senior year going to the playoffs. It would be awesome.”
On Friday, Comsewogue was missing one regular starter, junior middle hitter/outside hitter Jamie Brett, and four other Warriors were nursing colds.
Things went relatively smoothly for Riverhead , just the way Brown likes it. “It makes it a lot, a lot easier,” she said. “When we got down, we picked each other back up.”
Riverhead is well on the way toward booking a return trip to the playoffs. Two more league wins would do the trick, and from there, who knows where the Blue Waves could end up?
“We’ve had our ups and downs, no doubt about it, but name one team that doesn’t have ups and downs,” Korte said. “You got to work through them and grow.”