Down two sets to one of the top teams in League VI, and playing on the road, the East Hampton girls volleyball team’s chances of beating Westhampton Beach didn’t look good on September 10. So head coach Kathy McGeehan decided to take a calculated risk, switching up her lineup in hopes it would spark her team to a comeback.
It was a move that paid off.
The Lady Bonackers roared back to upset the Lady Hurricanes in five sets, losing the first two, 25-16, 25-16, before winning the last three, 25-19, 25-20, and 27-25.
To start the third set, McGeehan chose to move Katie Brierley—who was moved to a hitter this season—back to her role as libero, and used Kate Kavanaugh and Jacqueline Thorsen as outside hitters. Catharine Fleming was the opposite hitter and Katie Mendoza moved to the back row as a defensive specialist, while setter Lydia Budd and Carley Seekamp and Cassidy Walsh stayed in their usual spots.
“My hope was that this would help us get comfortable and get things going,” McGeehan said. “Having Catharine in the line-up with her taking a rotation in the middle, changed the match-ups at the net to allow Cassidy, our best blocker, to move to the right side for a rotation, and that helped our defense also. You could see midway through the third set that we were back and gaining momentum quickly.”
Westhampton Beach didn’t go down without a fight, as the final set was a nail-biter until the end. But McGeehan said her team’s experience and senior leadership was key in the final tense moments.
Westhampton Beach had to play most of the match without its starting middle blocker, who went down with a knee injury in the second set and had to be taken off on a stretcher. The injury caused a long delay in the game, but the Lady Hurricanes had looked like the dominant team both before and immediately after the injury delay.
Aside from scoring a key road win over one of the top teams in the league, East Hampton also had a school record broken on the day. Setter Lydia Budd finished with 50 assists, besting the mark of 49 set by Sarah Phillipbar in 2009. Seekamp finished with 28 kills while Walsh had 14 kills and six blocks. Brierley received serve 46 times without an error and had 25 digs.
East Hampton improved to 2-0 in League VI with a 3-0 win at home against Mount Sinai on Friday, with scores of 25-6, 25-13, and 25-17. Budd had six aces in the first set alone to get her team going. Mariah Gil had four aces and three assists, while Seekamp had 12 kills and Walsh had nine. Ashley Lynch, Fleming and Mahalia Hensler each had two kills.
The Lady Bonackers played in the Smithtown East Tournament on Saturday, losing in the quarterfinals to Smithtown East for the third year in a row, this time by a score of 25-19. East Hampton went 4-2 to finish second in its pool, taking two sets from Harborfields and splitting sets with Patchogue/Medford and Walt Whitman.
The East Hampton boys volleyball team fell to 0-3, taking on two more of the larger schools in Suffolk County last week. The Bonackers were edged, 3-2, by Commack on the road on September 9 before losing, 3-0, at home against Sachem North on September 11.
Against Commack, East Hampton lost the first set, 25-21, won the second, 25-20, and the third, 27-25, before dropping the last two sets, 25-19 and 25-23.
“My guys played well, but we didn’t make the necessary adjustments to beat Commack,” East Hampton head coach Josh Brussell said. “We gave up early points in the first, third, and fifth games, down as much as 15-3. It’s hard to come back from that big a deficit.”
Will Mackin led East Hampton with 22 kills and 9 digs.
Despite losing in three to Sachem North (25-11, 25-13 and 25-10), Brussell was happier with his team’s effort against the powerhouse team.
“I was very proud of the team in this game,” he said. “Sachem North is a great team and is favored to win the counties as well as go very far in the state tournament. I would say that their outside hitter could probably start on a Division I program today. They didn’t even go to him the whole time, they are a very well-rounded team with many offensive options. My boys never gave up though, never let the fact that they were getting beat like they were bring them down. They continued to swing and fight until the very last point. If we played that way against Commack, we probably would have won.”
Mackin had four kills, Matt Lownes had nine digs, and Brady Yusko had 10 assists.
ON THE SCHEDULE: Girls—Tuesday, 9/16, at Miller Place, 5 p.m.; Thursday, 9/18, vs. Sayville, 5 p.m.; Monday, 9/22, at Shoreham/Wading River, 5 p.m. Boys—Friday, 9/19, at Westhampton, 4:30 p.m.; Saturday, 9/20, vs. Connetquot, 1:30 p.m.; Monday, 9/22, at Huntington, 5 p.m.