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10/10/17 8:02pm
10/10/2017 8:02 PM

What may be the longest road trip in Suffolk County high school sports continues.

The Bishop McGann-Mercy girls volleyball team is a team without a home. Because of work being done in Mercy’s gym, the Monarchs haven’t been able to use it at all for practices or matches this season. READ

05/12/15 10:17pm
05/12/2015 10:17 PM
Bishop McGann-Mercy's Kaitlyn Butterfield, far left, and Meg Tuthill led the way during the 1,500-meter race. (Credit: Robert O'Rourk)

Bishop McGann-Mercy’s Kaitlyn Butterfield, far left, and Meg Tuthill led the way during the 1,500-meter race. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)


A league dual-meet championship in high school girls track and field can be a rather fragile thing. Because teams run only a handful of dual meets over the course of a season, a loss can be devastating to a team’s title chances.

That was the case with Bishop McGann-Mercy last year when the Monarchs lost their season-opening meet to Southampton. It was their one and only loss of the season, but it cost them the league championship.

The Monarchs haven’t slipped up since then, winning 11 straight dual meets since that loss to Southampton. With their 116-24 defeat of Greenport/Southold on Tuesday night in Riverhead, the Monarchs capped a 6-0 season and won the Suffolk County League VIII championship outright. It is their sixth league title since 2001 and fifth in seven years, according to the team’s second-year coach, Collin Zeffer. (more…)

10/23/14 10:34pm
10/23/2014 10:34 PM
Sam Henry, one of Greenport/Southold's eight seniors, prepares to serve. Henry made 13 digs against Bishop McGann-Mercy. (Credit: Garret Meade)

Sam Henry, one of Greenport/Southold’s eight seniors, prepares to serve. Henry made 13 digs against Bishop McGann-Mercy. (Credit: Garret Meade)

CLIPPERS 25, 25, 25, MONARCHS 13, 23, 14

Jenna Standish had been looking forward to Senior Day 2014 ever since she was a freshman. The senior outside hitter and her teammates on the Greenport/Southold high school girls volleyball team found the wait to be a worthwhile one.

Standish made a special day even more memorable by her fine all-around play as the Clippers took down Bishop McGann-Mercy in three games and eliminated the Monarchs from playoff contention on Thursday. The playoff-bound Clippers played what their coach, Mike Gunther, said was one of their best matches of the season, a 25-13, 25-23, 25-14 win in their final home match of the regular season at Greenport High School. (more…)

10/10/13 10:43pm
10/10/2013 10:43 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Greenport/Southold setter Sydney Mulvaney delivered 13 assists for the Clippers against Bishop McGann-Mercy.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Greenport/Southold setter Sydney Mulvaney delivered 13 assists for the Clippers against Bishop McGann-Mercy.

CLIPPERS 25, 25, 18, 16, 25, MONARCHS 23, 23, 25, 25, 23

Following her Greenport/Southold girls volleyball team’s season-opening loss to Bishop McGann-Mercy, coach Sue Kostal vowed that she would have a markedly different team by the end of the season.

It didn’t take that long.

Less than a month later, the Clippers are as different as they were on opening day as night and day. That was clear Thursday when they began the second half of their season by prevailing in a five-game thriller against that same McGann-Mercy team. The young Clippers won three games by 25-23 scores, including the decisive fifth game in which they trailed virtually the whole way before rallying for the final 7 points of the match at Greenport High School.

McGann-Mercy coach Jamie Calandro called two timeouts during that run in an attempt to cool the Clippers, but it didn’t work. The Monarchs tried to pop up a hit by Greenport/Southold’s Jenna Standish on match point, but were unable to, and the Clippers rejoiced, hugging each other in celebration. With the 25-23, 25-23, 18-25, 16-25, 25-23 triumph, Greenport/Southold (3-5, 3-4 League VIII) snapped a three-match losing streak. McGann-Mercy (3-6, 3-5) suffered its fifth loss in six matches.

McGann-Mercy held a 119-109 superiority in total points and a 29-18 advantage in kills, but it wasn’t enough for the Monarchs.

Standish, the Greenport/Southold captain, was a standout, collecting 9 kills, 4 service aces and an assist. Sydney Mulvaney provided 13 assists. Sam Henry was steady at the service line, going 21 of 25, with 6 aces.

As well as Standish played, perhaps no one had a better match than McGann-Mercy’s Amanda Blacknik, who put away 14 kills to go with 4 aces and 2 dinks. The Monarchs also received 12 kills, 5 aces, 3 dinks, 2 blocks and an assist from Fiona Nunez.

Unlike McGann-Mercy, which has a more experienced team with seven seniors and a pair of juniors on its roster, the Clippers are young, with four sophomores and only one senior, Ashely Billera.

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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.”

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05/24/11 11:13pm
05/24/2011 11:13 PM

The buzz at the Suffolk County high school boys golf championships this week was how well a girl was doing.

The girl in question, Mattituck High School senior Marie Santacroce, undoubtedly surprised more than a few people with her play in the two-day tournament at Indian Island Country Club in Riverhead. Santacroce was not only among the 30 players who made the cut on Monday, but she finished on Tuesday in a tie for eighth place, falling two strokes shy of qualifying for the state tournament.

Now that’s not bad.

“I loved it. It was great competition,” Santacroce said. “I learned that I can beat anyone having a good short game.”

Because Mattituck doesn’t have a girls golf team, Santacroce found herself playing alongside and competing against boys when she joined the varsity squad three years ago. That was fine with her. She welcomed the competition, the longer distances she had to play, and said it helped her game, so much so that she will play for Flagler College (Fla.) next season.

“I like playing with the boys,” Santacroce said. “They play differently than the girls. They play more aggressively than the girls do.”

Competing in the county tournament for the third straight year, Santacroce made the cut for the first time by shooting an 81 on the par-72 course on Monday. She then did even better on Tuesday, with a 78 and a two-day total of 159, making her the lowest-scoring girl in the tournament.

“Marie had a fabulous day,” Mattituck coach Jim Underwood said. “This was easily the best she’s played for Mattituck, hands down.”

While boys may have had longer drives than Santacroce, she caught up with some of them with her accurate short game.

“I guess they underestimate me because I’m so much shorter than them off the tee, but I’m very consistent,” Santacroce said. “I’m straight up the middle. The short game saved me. When I’m confident on my short game, I can score very well.”

Santacroce said she was “dragging a little bit” on the back nine Tuesday when it got hot and muggy, but her father, John, gave her some chocolate and it re-energized her.

Zach Grossman of East Hampton (72 and 72) and Kyle Burke of Sayville (76 and 68) both posted two-day totals of 144. Grossman won it on the first playoff hole.

Two Shoreham-Wading River players, Sean Sanders and John Malandras, made the cut. Sanders recorded scores of 80 and 82 to finish in a tie for 11th place. Malandras had an 80 and a 93, finishing 17th.

A number of other local golfers competed on Monday, but failed to make the cut: Robbie Bray of Shoreham-Wading River (83), John Sorenson of Greenport/Southold (84), Richie Corazzini of Mattituck (85), Lee Balsano of Shoreham-Wading River (87), Tyler Crohan of Greenport/Southold (87), Kyle Clausen of Greenport/Southold (87), Will Fujita of Greenport/Southold (92), Brad Tyler of Mattituck (93), Chris Divito of Shoreham-Wading River (93), Luke Hokanson of Greenport/Southold (93), Dakota Trick of Bishop McGann-Mercy (96), David O’Day of Greenport/Southold (98), Winston Wilcenski of Greenport/Southold (113) and Catherine Brabazon of Bishop McGann-Mercy (125).

Mattituck golf is only part of Santacroce’s résumé. She is the Island’s End Golf and Country Club’s women’s champion and has played in national tournaments throughout the country. She recently won a junior tournament in New Jersey and will soon compete in a pro-am tournament.

Underwood said that if Santacroce played high school girls golf, she would be among the top five players in the county.

“It’s not like this was handed to her,” he said. “She’s worked so hard for it.”

For Santacroce, who aside from Connor Davis is the team’s only senior, to close out her high school career on such a positive note is encouraging. She said, “I’m happy with the way that I played and I’m happy with myself.”

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