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.”
The Blue Waves will face the likes of Smithtown East, Smithtown West, West Islip, Newfield and North Babylon, but will do so with a sense of confidence after making the playoffs for the first time in three years last season. They gave a good account of themselves in a four-game loss to Ward Melville in a Suffolk County Class AA Tournament first-round match on Halloween. That left the Blue Waves with an 11-5 record for the season.
The high school playing careers of five Riverheaders came to an end that day, but the Blue Waves still have four starters in uniform, including senior libero Joscelin Morrow, an all-county player who is expected to pick up the bulk of the balls on defense. The three other returning regulars are junior middle hitter Dezarae Brown, senior middle hitter Rachel Clement and senior opposite-side hitter Joanna Messina.
Rachel Doroski, a senior outside hitter, also offers varsity experience.
“We have a lot of young players this year but I think the veterans, they know what it takes to get back to the playoffs,” said Greene.
Perhaps the biggest change for the Blue Waves is the addition of a new setter: Kaitlyn Keane, a sophomore who played for the junior varsity team last year.
“We’re going to rely a lot on Kaitlyn’s hands,” said Greene, who noted that Morrow can also help with the setting.
In the first week of two-a-day practices, Greene said, “Kaitlin has improved so much. She’s determined. She’s worked so much.”
Greene said she is excited to see how the team develops.
“What I love about this team is they are not only great on the court, but they’re great off the court as well,” she said, adding, “I really think the dedication that they put on the court is really going to show in a few years.”