With just two games remaining in the regular season, the Eastport South Manor boys volleyball team appears poised to be the top seed when the Suffolk County Division II playoffs start next week.
ESM, which is ranked sixth in Suffolk County, among both large and small schools, easily defeated Huntington on October 22 and Hauppauge last Friday, both at home and by identical scores of 3-0. The victories improved the Sharks to 7-5 in the county (7-6 overall) with 118.48 power points.
Sayville (7-6, 113.47) is just a win behind ESM in the standings. But if the Sharks and the Golden Flashes finish the regular season with identical records, ESM head coach Bruce Stiriz says his team would still be given the top seed based on strength of schedule and even though ESM lost to Sayville earlier this season.
If they are the top seed, the Sharks would host the fourth seed in the Division II semifinal match on Monday, November 4, at 5 p.m. The winner of that game will advance to the finals, which will be played on Tuesday, November 5, at 4 p.m., at the Westhampton Beach Middle School. There will be a $6 admission fee to that game.
ESM made quick work of its opponents last week. Against Hauppauge, the Sharks won 25-19, 25-22 and 25-14. Senior Eric Ferrante had 31 assists, junior Tyler Brandow led with a team-high 15 kills and senior Jon Suarez had 14 kills. Delaney Vogt, a junior, finished with a team-high nine digs.
“Our serving was off, besides that, our court work was great,” Stiriz said. “Our last three or four practices, and Hauppauge was right in the middle of all that, it’s all seemed to click. Practices are being dominated right now. I think we’re a tough team to beat.”
ESM defeated Huntington in straight sets. The Sharks won the first two games by scores of 25-10 and 25-8 before the reserves replaced the starters. The reserves took the third and final set, 26-24.
Brandow had 12 kills, Ferrante finished with 11 assists and sophomore Josh Undari recorded nine assists. Kyle Allen-Morabito, a sophomore, had three kills and a block in two sets.
Undari and Allen-Morabito have been given much larger roles on the team following injuries to senior Kevin Reilly (stress fracture in foot) and junior Brian Blekas (broken hand). The injuries caused Stiriz to change the team’s strategy around a bit, going from a 5-1 to a 6-2 with two setters. Stiriz said both Undari and Allen-Morabito have filled in nicely.
“Josh is playing tremendous ball and Kyle, who is playing the middle, has flourished as a sophomore. He’s getting better and better,” Stiriz said. “We might get Kevin back for the playoffs, and if we do, he’s going to come back as a serving specialist and back-court guy, because the system has really worked.”
It’s been a tough season for the Westhampton Beach boys volleyball team. The Hurricanes won, 3-2, at Huntington in their first match of the season back on September 9, but have not won a match since then.
Westhampton Beach lost both of its home matches last week by scores of 3-0 against Walt Whitman on October 23 and Sachem East last Friday. The Canes dropped the match to Whitman 25-16, 25-18 and 25-17 and fell to Sachem East, 25-11, 25-9 and 25-19.
“The kids are still working hard every day, but we are just not successful this year,” Westhampton Beach head coach Jackie Reed said. “We have a lot of growing up to do emotionally and physically. We are a very young team and have great expectations for the future.”