Adversity was no stranger to the Bishop McGann-Mercy girls volleyball team this year. And it was adversity on multiple fronts.
For starters, the Monarchs didn’t have as much experience as they did last year. They had only eight players on their roster. Oh, and there was that other thing: They didn’t have a home gym to practice or play matches in.
Given a lemon, Mercy turned it into lemonade.
“And it was really sweet lemonade,” coach Jeff Trelewicz said. “It was lemonade that you want to drink on a hot day.”
For the second straight year the Monarchs savored the taste of the postseason, and for the second straight year they were ousted from the playoffs by Pierson/Bridgehampton. The Whalers took three of four sets from Mercy in a Suffolk County Class C outbracket match last Wednesday at Pierson High School. No. 2 seed Pierson (9-3) advanced to the county final Tuesday against the League VIII champion, No. 1 Stony Brook (10-2).
No. 3 Mercy (6-6), which went 0-3 against Pierson this year, couldn’t be too disappointed, though. The fact that the Monarchs reached the playoffs at all was a feat in itself.
Because of work being done on Mercy’s gym, the Monarchs haven’t had the use of it this year. That meant practicing at a school parking lot or on the school’s tennis courts for the ultimate road warriors.
“Anything that happened to our team this year, in our eyes, I think was an achievement because of the adversity that faced our team each and every day,” Trelewicz said. “Think about how your home crowd drives you. Think about how your home-field advantage drives your team. We always had the other teams’ fans rooting against us. We had no choice but to kind of dig it up ourselves.”
Mercy went into its playoff match starting outside hitters Chiara DePaola and Libby Daddi, setter Gabrielle Jean, middle hitters Mary Grace Hartmann and Lexi Cintron and defensive specialist Ella Mysliborski, with Katie Devaney playing libero. Madelyn Knight came off the bench.
“The last few years us and Pierson have been matched up so well,” Trelewicz said. “We have very similar teams. We have strong points. We have weak points. While it’s been a good matchup, it’s been a little frustrating for our side.”
Trelewicz said his players have become “so much more mature as athletes because they learned this season not to make excuses, just to fight the good fight.”
The Monarchs can look forward to next season.
“We’re going to have our gym back,” Trelewicz said. “We’re going to be back in business.”
Photo caption: Bishop McGann-Mercy’s Mary Grace Hartmann taking a swing at the ball while Pierson/Bridgehampton’s Aziza El tries to block it. (Credit: Garret Meade)