Consistency will be the calling card of the Hampton Bays girls volleyball team this season.
Without a lockdown hitter or deadly server, the Lady Baymen might not be flashy, but head coach Andy Fotopoulos is hoping his squad can make up for what it lacks in offensive firepower with steady, all-around play.
“We will rely on our consistency,” he said. “We will keep the ball in play and try to get other teams to make mistakes.”
Seniors Christen Bellucchi and Taylor Link will be the team’s top hitters, and will be charged with scoring points after the loss of All-Conference hitter Sam Aube. Senior Tori Laureano and junior Alex Maitland-Ward will be the team’s top middle blockers. Hampton Bays returns a talented young setter in sophomore Alexis Fotopoulos, who was the League VIII Rookie of the Year last season and also named All-League. She’ll handle setting duties along with junior Meghan Harris. All-League libero Jean Louise Catena returns to give the Lady Baymen some consistency in the back row and on defense.
Hampton Bays opened the season on Monday with a 3-0 non-league loss to Westhampton Beach, which returned much of its lineup and will be a strong contender in Class A this season.
The Lady Baymen should fare well in League VII, which includes a mix of Class B and C teams. Come playoff time, Hampton Bays will compete in Class B, which has been dominated for years by Elwood/John Glenn, the two-time defending state champion. Hampton Bays has had the misfortune of facing Glenn on the road in the first round of the playoffs in the last two years, becoming the first victim in their run to consecutive state titles. Glenn graduated standout hitter Jackie Malusa, but had proven in the past that it never rebuilds but simply reloads. Bayport and Center Moriches are the other Class B teams in League VII, which is rounded out by Class C squads Southampton, Mattituck and Babylon. Class B also includes three League VI teams—East Hampton, Shoreham/Wading River and Mount Sinai.
The Lady Whalers have a new coach this year in Donna Fischer. Fischer coached the middle school team the last three years before taking over for Stacey DeRobertis, who is now coaching at Southampton. Fischer played collegiate volleyball at Elon University, and on club teams in New York City and on the beach volleyball circuit.
Pierson graduated three players, but has several key players returning. Lillian Kunzeman and Jenna Hochstedler will be the team’s top outside hitters, Bridget Canavan will be an opposite hitter, and Shannone Keane and Tatyana Dawson are middle blockers. Setter May Evjen returns and should provide consistency in ball control, and she can hit the ball adeptly as well. Sydney Mitchell and libero Morgan Vaughn will lead the back row, while Jada Pinckney, Maria Florez, Colleen Samot and Serina Severence will come off the bench.
“Our strengths are that we have a strong team with six seniors who have been playing together for several years,” Fischer said. “My juniors are looking strong as well and practicing hard. We are looking to play as a cohesive unit and communicate on the court and get some wins.”
Pierson, which competes in Class C and League VIII, will likely get its toughest tests from Port Jefferson, Greenport/Southold and Stony Brook.
Information on the Southampton girls volleyball team was not provided by press time.
ON THE SCHEDULE: Hampton Bays—Tuesday, 9/10, at Bayport, 5:45 p.m.; Tuesday, 9/17, vs. Babylon, 4:30 p.m.; Thursday, 9/19, at Southampton, 4 p.m. Pierson—Thursday, 9/12, at Port Jeff, 4:30 p.m.; Monday, 9/16, vs. Shelter Island, 4 p.m.; Wednesday, 9/18, at Ross, 4 p.m. Southampton—Tuesday, 9/10, vs. Glenn, 4:30 p.m.; Tuesday, 9/17, at Mattituck, 4 p.m.; Thursday, 9/19, vs. Hampton Bays, 4 p.m.