Coaches of Like Mind

“excited”
James Stanis, one of East Hampton’s powerful hitters, unleashed one during last Thursday’s win in five here over Commack. Craig Macnaughton

East Hampton High School’s volleyball coaches, Josh Brussell and Kathy McGeehan, said this past week that they were “excited” when it comes to their teams, though the girls program, which has 16 ninth graders split between its varsity and junior varsity, has longer to go before it will be a top Class B contender again.

McGeehan, who’s starting three freshmen — Ella Gurney, Madyson Neff, and Tallulah Marino — said Monday that the team was 3-6 with an outside chance of making the playoffs. Tuesday’s game here with ShorehamWading River, a playoff-bound team that beat the Bonackers in five the last time out, would be “huge,” she said.

If East Hampton defeated Shoreham Tuesday, it might be possible, McGeehan said, to get into the postseason with a 5-7 record should Section XI approve its petition to do so. A chance of finishing at .500 was, she said, unlikely, given that one of the remaining games is with John Glenn, which “is even stronger than it was last year.”

As for the boys, Brussell was happy to report that his charges had bested Commack, a large school, in five here last Thursday.

East Hampton won the pivotal set 25-18.

“You have to finish among the top three of the county’s six small schools to make the playoffs,” the coach said during a conversation Sunday. “We’re third now, and we could go to second. We’d be in first if we had schedules as easy as Sayville and Hauppauge. But, because we were finalists last year, we were given a tougher one. If we finish second, we’ll have a home playoff game, which would be great.”

At a tournament at Eastport-South Manor Saturday, East Hampton made it to the semifinal round where it lost to Lindenhurst, “the fourth-best team in Suffolk County.”

Finally, Brussell said, he settled upon a starting lineup in the Commack match. It includes Hunter Fromm, a sophomore, who’s “improving every day,” at setter; James Stanis, a junior outside hitter; Will Mackin, a senior outside hitter; Sean Ryan, a senior middle hitter; Jack Brierley, a senior blocker, and Henry Uihlein, the senior libero.

“Now, I’ll always have a big hitter in the front row, which wasn’t the case last season,” said Brussell, who added that “against Commack, Sean Ryan doubled the number of kills he’s had for the entire season.”

“We’re looking good,” the coach said in answer to a question. “I’m very impressed with our guys, I’m very excited.”

Back to the girls, McGeehan said she hoped the freshmen would play in the off-season, “as do all of our opponents.”

Her 23-year-old assistant, Alex Choi, with whose mother McGeehan once competed in beach volleyball tournaments, is a coach of the Center Moriches-based travel team, the Blaze.

The varsity squad, besides the abovenamed ninth graders, includes, she said, five seniors (Catharine Fleming, Ashley Lynch, Katy Mendoza, Emma Norris, and Taliya Hayes), two juniors (Danielle Futerman and Georgia Aldrich), two sophomores (Olivia Brauer and Alexis Vargas), and two other freshmen (Elle Johnson and Nicole Realmuto).

Aldrich and Brauer are the setters. Gurney, Neff, and Hayes are middle hitters, Marino is the libero, and Fleming and Lynch are outside hitters. Vargas and Mendoza are defensive specialists, and Norris is a serving specialist.

“They’re improving — they’re working hard,” said the coach. “It’s a great year for teaching. Molly Nolan, our jayvee coach, is a young and energetic person just like Alex. Her team is super young, but they’re learning fast, maybe even faster than the girls on the varsity. . . . We’re very excited.”