Now the Shoreham-Wading River High School girls volleyball team can breathe a little bit easier.
With their 25-21, 25-15, 25-23 win over Mount Sinai on Monday night, the Wildcats took a big step closer to the playoffs. For Shoreham (6-6 overall and in Suffolk County League VI) to reach the playoffs for a third straight year, it needs to win one of its two remaining regular-season matches. The Wildcats will play at Miller Place (4-9, 1-9 before today’s matches) Wednesday and at Sayville (13-1, 11-0 before today) on Oct. 25. Earlier this season, Shoreham defeated Miller Place in three sets and lost to Sayville in four.
Given the playoff scenario, the Wildcats had to approach Monday’s match against Mount Sinai (2-11, 2-10) as a must-win situation. In the first meeting between the teams on Sept. 15, Shoreham won in five sets.
“It definitely was big,” Shoreham coach Megan Johnson said after Monday’s victory.
It was Shoreham’s final home match of the regular season, featuring a pregame ceremony in which the team’s six seniors were given flowers and listened as Johnson said some nice words about them.
“I thought I was going to start crying,” said one of those seniors, middle hitter Maegan Letscher (five blocks, four kills, four dinks, three service aces).
The affect of the senior ceremony may have carried over to the first set. “I think that’s exactly what happened,” said Johnson.
Shoreham fell into a 5-0 hole to start things off and trailed by as many as six points at 11-6.
“I think it was just the jitters in the beginning,” said junior setter Katlynn McGivney, who went 26-for-26 serving with three aces and had 15 assists. “You know, the speech made everyone just emotional and I guess the seniors were just thinking about how this is their last game here. I know when I’m going to be a senior next year I’m just going to be a wreck because it’s so sad leaving a place that you’ve grown up in.”
But the Wildcats regained their composure, slowly battled back and whittled away at Mount Sinai’s lead. Despite doing the chasing for most of that set, Shoreham took its first lead at 20-19 on a hitting error before prevailing, with the aid of back-to-back aces by Sarah Fabian (five kills).
“Those first couple of points got me nervous for that set, but I knew that once we found our flow, we would be fine,” Johnson said. “I was just nervous for how long it would take us to find our flow.”
After that bumpy beginning, Shoreham looked like a different team.
“We pulled together,” McGivney said. “I think we started to gain momentum and started playing our game, not frantic.”
The second set couldn’t have started much more differently. Shoreham bolted to an 8-0 lead and led by as many as 14 points when a Letscher block made it 20-6.
The third set was the most competitive of the day. The lead changed hands 11 times, the last time on the first of successive kills by Kaila Teodoro. A kill by Mount Sinai’s Paige Brauer pulled the Mustangs to within 24-22 before a hitting error once again put Shoreham at match point. Then Brianna Loguercio took a set from McGivney and buried a shot at a Mount Sinai player who couldn’t do anything with it.
Mount Sinai’s Meghan Scutaro put away seven kills.
Reaching the playoffs is something Shoreham has its heart set on.
“It’s the whole endpoint of the game, the whole season,” Letscher said. “We go in with that intention.”
A trip to the postseason would be a fine parting gift for the six Shoreham seniors: Olivia Baudo, Lindsay Deegan, Margo Gordon, Fabian, Letscher and Loguercio.
“I’ve been playing with them for three years now,” McGivney said. “They’re like my volleyball family. They introduced me to volleyball. When I was just a freshman coming up, I was new to everything, and they were always so welcoming, and I love them all.”
How does Johnson feel about her team’s playoff chances?
“If we play our game, we should be fine,” she said. She also added, “Hey, any given day, anything can happen.”
Photo caption: Shoreham-Wading River coach Megan Johnson hugs one of her six seniors, Lindsay Deegan, during a pregame ceremony. (Credit: Bob Liepa)