Last season was a successful one for the Pierson girls volleyball team as it advanced to the Suffolk County Class D Championship before losing to Shelter Island. This year, the Lady Whalers are hoping for another winning season and postseason run, and despite losing six seniors to graduation, head coach Donna Fischer is excited about her team’s prospects.
The Lady Whalers return a strong group of seniors that includes outside hitter Shannon Keane (All-League and All-Tournament last year), libero Morgan Vaughn, defensive specialist Colleen Samot, outside hitter Maria Florez, defensive specialist Jada Pinckney and utility player Meagan McMahon. They will work to offset the losses of several strong players from last year, namely setter and captain May Evjen, an All-League and All-Tournament player, and All-League picks Lilian Kunzeman (outside) and Tatiana Dawson (middle). Sydney Mitchell (defensive specialist), Bridget Canavan (opposite) and Jennah Hochstedler (outside) also graduated.
In addition to this year’s seniors, Fischer is also expecting contributions from freshman outside hitter Leigh Hatfield, sophomore middles Nia Dawson and Chloe Collette-Schindler, sophomore opposite Mackenzie Benbenek and sophomore setter Maizy Guyer. Juniors Serina Severeance (setter), Taylor Cox (outside/defensive specialist) and Jessica Arbia (opposite) also join the team.
“This is a very young group, but they are dedicated and working hard,” Fischer said, pointing out that Guyer, Benbenek, Schindler and Cox all played on a club team over the winter while Hatfield attended Nike Volleyball camp at Curry College in Massachusetts.
“Most girls played summer ball and have also practiced hard during preseason,” Fischer added. “I believe that once they get in their groove, they’ll be a force to be reckoned with.”
Pierson plays in League VIII, which includes fellow Class D schools Shelter Island and Stony Brook, as well as Class C squads Mercy, Greenport/Southold, Port Jefferson and Ross.
Fischer expects Shelter Island to be the top team in the league again, and said Stony Brook and Southold/Greenport should be strong as well.
Pierson opened the season with a 3-0 loss to Class B team Hampton Bays in a non-league road game on Friday, losing with scores of 25-11, 25-4 and 25-17.
The Lady Mariners have a new coach in Tahlia Miller. Miller inherits a program that went 2-10 in League VII last year, failing to make the Class B playoffs.
Additional information on the team was not immediately available.
ON THE SCHEDULE: Pierson—Wednesday, 9/10, vs. Greenport/Southold, 4 p.m.; Friday, 9/12, at Mercy, 4 p.m.; Monday, 9/15, at Mattituck, 4:30 p.m.; Wednesday, 9/17, vs. Shelter Island, 4 p.m. Southampton—Tuesday, 9/9, at Hampton Bays, 4 p.m.; Thursday, 9/11, at Bayport/Blue Point, 4 p.m.; Monday, 9/15, vs. Babylon, 4:30 p.m.