Soul-Searching Talk After Boys Volleyball Loss in Three

While the girls’ loss was not unexpected, the boys volleyball team’s loss, in three straight, to its Center Moriches peers came as a bit of a shock
Josh Brussell, East Hampton’s coach, expects good things from his hitters (that’s Robert Anderson above) once they make certain adjustments. Craig Macnaughton

   The big news in East Hampton High School sports this past week was the girls volleyball team’s victory over a perennial rival, Westhampton Beach, and the boys cross-country team’s second-place finish in the 16-team Peconic Invitational meet at Red Creek Park.

    Kevin Barry’s boys, who shocked Sayville 17-43 in the opener at Sunken Meadow, with Jack Link, Erik Engstrom, and Adam Cebulski grabbing the top three places, took third (Engstrom), seventh (Link), 11th (Cebulski), 29th (Thomas Brierley), and 41st (Jackson Rafferty) in Hampton Bays’ invitational meet.

    The Bonackers were to have contended against Westhampton at Sunken Meadow on Tuesday, and will play host at Cedar Point Park here to Rocky Point this coming Tuesday.
    It will be the first real home meet the cross-country teams (the girls are to go against Shoreham that day) have had here in two decades. “Bring bug spray,” Barry has advised spectators.

    As for Sunken Meadow, which is in Kings Park, the coach said “we’re making seven trips there this fall, 980 miles all told. That’s a lot of time on a bus, a lot of time for the kids to do their homework. No wonder we’ve been a scholar-athlete team for the past 15 years.”
Kathy McGeehan, the girls volleyball coach, reached by phone Monday evening as her team’s bus was heading home from Mount Sinai, said her charges had just won there, in three straight — 25-18, 25-15, and 25-18.

Her two setters, Lydia Budd and Raya O’Neal, had had 32 assists, she said. In addition, O’Neal had 12 kills and five service aces. “She sets when she’s in the back, and hits when she’s in the front,” McGeehan said, in answer to a question.

Moreover, Katie Brierley, the libero, had 30 digs, Jenna Budd, Lydia’s twin, had 22 digs, and Kate Kavanaugh, who came off the bench, had four kills, as did Jenna Budd. Lydia Budd had six kills.

As for last Thursday’s match here with Westhampton, McGeehan said, “They’re always tough — Lenny [Zaloga] worked with them in the off-season, and they’re much improved. They’re tall and they control the ball well. We won in four — it was a team effort. We lost the first, but once we got rid of the jitters we rolled.”

“Katie’s serving and passing led the way. She had 28 digs and seven aces. She played spectacular defense. Lydia had 18 assists, Raya had 12. Raya also had three solo blocks and 11 kills. We were strong all the way down the line.”

    The team was to have played Miller Place here yesterday, and tomorrow plays what McGeehan said is an important nonleague match at Bayport-Blue Point, a fellow Class B team. “How we do there will have a bearing on the playoff seedings,” the coach said.

    Two Bonac teams played at home Tuesday — girls soccer and boys volleyball. And both lost to their Center Moriches counterparts.

    The girls, who were overmatched, put up a good fight for 65 minutes, their coach, Mike Vitulli, said. Though, in the end, the wheels came off, as it were, and the Red Devils, whom the Bonackers had held scoreless in the 40-minute first half, and in the first 25 minutes of the second, wound up winning 4-0.

    Vitulli’s charges, who include 16 seniors, went into the game with a 2-0 record, having shut out Southampton and Pierson, both nonleague opponents, by 3-0 scores. Francesca Schelfhout is the goalie, and Amanda Seekamp, Jennifer Inamagua, Wylee Musnicki, and Rachael Harty are among the scoring threats.

    While the girls’ loss was not unexpected, the boys volleyball team’s loss, in three straight, to its Center Moriches peers came as a bit of a shock — so much so that Josh Brussell, the team’s coach, talked it over with his players in the wrestling room for about a half-hour afterward.

    Later, Brussell, who thinks this team can win a county championship, said, “We gave up 66 points on unforced errors, which meant that they only had to win 9 points to win the game.”

    The scores were 25-21, 25-22, and 25-22. East Hampton’s defense, led by Matt Lownes, the irrepressible libero, acquitted itself well, but the offense sputtered, especially in crunch time as balls that looked as if they’d be certain kills rocketed over the end line and sidelines.

    “It’s a mental thing,” said Brussell. “It’s a matter of finding that middle ground between exuberance and caution. They have the talent, they just need the confidence. You want to hit it hard, but keep it in the court. We’ll make the adjustments — we won’t be deterred by this defeat. I know they can do it.”

    As for Lownes, whose presence on the court energizes the team, Brussell said, “I wish they all were like him — he’s improved so much.”

    Brussell added that the program was on the right track, in large part because two of his former players — Jon Jamet and Hayden Ward — are now helping him. Jamet is the assistant varsity coach; Ward, the State University of New York Athletic Conference’s men’s basketball player of the year in 2012, is coaching the jayvee.

    “It’s awesome to have Hayden. I asked him a few times over the summer [at Gurney’s Inn beach volleyball games] if he’d do it. He’s so into it. It’s really cool to have these guys you’ve coached come back, it promotes such a team spirit. It’s golden.”

    In other action Monday, the field hockey team shut out Shoreham-Wading River 3-0, a big win inasmuch as Shoreham’s always strong in the sport, and the girls tennis team was bageled 7-0 by William Floyd, the Island’s fourth-ranked team.