This was to have been the year for the East Hampton High School girls volleyball team inasmuch as the perennial county Class B champion, John Glenn, was not supposed to be as strong as it had been in the past.
Well, Glenn, which defeated the Bonackers in four at Bay Shore High School on Nov. 6 to win yet another county Class B title, was strong enough.
With Raya O’Neal, who holds several school records, chiefly a nonfactor in the first set, Glenn, which led by as many as 10 points at one point, broke the ice at 25-14.
The next set was much closer than the first, and, in fact, went down to the wire. With a double block by O’Neal and Cassidy Walsh of Glenn’s chief hitter, Simi Familusi, East Hampton went up 18-16, though with Carley Seekamp serving Familusi avenged herself with a dink that hit the floor.
Glenn pulled even on the next point, though a kill by O’Neal off a Lydia Budd set made it 19 East Hampton, 18 John Glenn. With Walsh serving, a long rally ensued, ending when O’Neal netted a would-be kill.
And so it went until, with Glenn leading 23-22, Seekamp lashed from the left side of the net a crosscourt kill attempt so hard that the line judge standing at the far right corner of the court turned quickly away as she called the ball out, a decision with which East Hampton’s fans took strong exception.
The call stood, however, and with Glenn’s Julianne Tesi serving, Familusi at the middle of the net blasted the winning kill through Seekamp and Christina Cangiolosi’s outstretched arms.
That 25-22 loss proved pivotal, and had Kathy McGeehan, East Hampton’s coach, second-guessing herself afterward. “Before the third set [which East Hampton won 25-20] I front-loaded our offense because we hadn’t been attacking enough. I should have flipped the lineup before the second set.”
Two crosscourt kills by O’Neal with Seekamp serving treated the Bonackers to a 16-11 lead in the third, and a few minutes later, a kill by O’Neal, with Lydia Budd serving, and a subsequent block by Walsh upped the margin to 22-13.
Glenn fought back, though Seekamp nailed down the lid, at 25-20, slapping the ball hard to the floor.
But just as quickly, the momentum shifted toward Glenn, which went up 6-2 in the fourth, causing McGeehan to call a timeout.
East Hampton got it back to 7-7, but was never to come any closer as Glenn slowly but surely pulled away to a 25-19 win that clinched for it the championship.
“They’re very well coached, they executed their game plan, and we weren’t completely in sync all night,” said McGeehan in summing up. “We didn’t pass well, and so we were very tentative offensively. I was always expecting we’d kick it into another gear, but we never did. . . . Our first contact has so much to do with how we do because we don’t hit extremely well off the net.”
As for tips at the net, which frequently turned into points for Glenn, East Hampton’s coach said, “We were tipping off the net — high and deeper into the court. More of their tips were made closer to the net.”
The loss was, McGeehan said, disappointing, “though I’m proud of the way we played, the way we stuck together. It’s easy to fall apart in a match like that. There was no meltdown.”
“I wouldn’t agree with you that they had ‘one too many weapons.’ They were what we expected, a ball-control team that doesn’t make too many errors . . . and very smart.”
She added that Walsh had been outstanding, what with five solo blocks, all of which were “terminating plays,” and eight kills. Seekamp, she said, had played well “both in the front and back rows. . . . They were serving away from Katie [Brierley, East Hampton’s libero]. That was evident in the stats: Carley had 31 service receptions, Katie had 20.”
“Jenna Budd played outstanding defense. . . . We did have high hopes going in. We thought it would be our turn, especially the way we played against Bayport in the semifinals.”
East Hampton thus finished 13-2 over all, and because there are only two seniors — O’Neal, who was to have signed a letter of intent to attend Hampton University on a full scholarship yesterday, and Cangiolosi — McGeehan, who apparently is not about to retire just yet, can look forward to another strong campaign next fall, given the strength of her returnees, Seekamp, the Budd twins, Brierley, and Walsh among them, and the fact that the junior varsity, coached by Ashley Ullmann, only lost one match this season.
O’Neal will, of course, be a huge loss. She is East Hampton’s all-time career assist leader and is second all-time in kills. McGeehan said she had been recruited by Hampton University as a setter.
“Raya’s the first player we’ve had to receive a full athletic scholarship to a D-1 school,” the coach added.