A disappointing 3-2 loss at Miller Place in the final match of the regular season was telling of how last year’s campaign went for the Westhampton Beach girls volleyball team. Up 24-19 with the match tied at 2-2, the Lady Hurricanes couldn’t close out a victory that would have pushed them into the playoffs.
The girls missed out on the postseason for just the third time in the 27-year career of head coach Lenny Zaloga. They are looking to get back on track this season.
“I think the girls, some of them anyway, were a little too relaxed last year,” Zaloga said. “This year, so far, they are taking it a little more serious.”
For the first time ever in his career, Zaloga is carrying more than 14 players on his team, 17 to be exact. That is because there are a lot of seniors on this year’s team, and he doesn’t want to have to start from scratch at the beginning of next season. It’ll also create some good competition amongst the players.
Returning to the team this season is a handful of seniors looking to right the ship. Morgan Tiska, Alexa Smith, Brenna Hogan, Zoe Recchion, Ashlyn Kennedy and Ivonne Grunseich are all returning, along with juniors Sarah Culver, Lauren Lorefice and sophomore Arianna Brierton. They will all be filling in for Marta Sadowska, Mikaela Moschella, Kotryna Jankunaite and Jamie DeVivo, who have all graduated.
Zaloga is extremely excited about his up-and-coming underclassmen. Sarena Choi, a freshman from East Moriches, joins the team this season and could log some starting minutes. Sophomores Sunny Foglia, Shea Casey and Maddie Neuberger are also some key additions to the team.
There were a few changes to League VI. Powerhouse Elwood/John Glenn has moved down to League VII, Rocky Point has moved down to League V and Mount Sinai is now in League VI, along with Shoreham/Wading River. Zaloga was happy to see that Glenn was not in the league anymore, but it doesn’t mean that the league isn’t competitive.
“Sometimes you would expect Glenn to have a down year, but they go to states every year,” he said. “East Hampton is going to be the favorite, but I think we’ll be right there. Mt. Sinai lost their best player so I’m not sure what to expect from them. So did Sayville. Miller place lost a few players. I think we’ll be a little better than we were last year.”
The Eastport South Manor girls volleyball is looking to, at the very least, match last year’s success after it reached the playoffs but lost to Deer Park 3-2 in the Class A quarterfinals.
With just three girls having graduated last year in Cassandra Minogue, Brittany Boccio, and Kaila Zaharis, a return trip to the playoffs is expected with a senior-laden team. Nikki Illuzzi, Morgan Johnson, Brittany Little, Sarah Mulligan, Amanda Rose and Heather Watson, all seniors, are returning along with juniors Kristen Bohnenblusch and Gabrielle Calise and sophomore Daniela Detore.
Sophomores Jessica Nicholson, Gabby Giammarino and Jenna Mason are all up from the JV and junior Danielle Senegal decided to play volleyball instead of soccer this season.
“We’re hoping to do as best as we can,” ESM head coach Don Consorte said. “We feel like we have the ability to compete—it’s just how we’re able to keep our emotions in check. Last year we got a little too excited, a little too amped up in matches and it led to unforced errors.
“We’re just as talented as last year if not more,” he added. “It’s just trying to keep up our emotions from bringing us down.”
Other than Rocky Point moving down into League V, there hasn’t been many changes to the league. Kings Park will still be expected to do well, along with Islip and Harborfields. Comsewogue and Huntington make up the rest of the league.