Girls Volleyball Team Went Treatless on Halloween

The girls finished with a 10-4 record in League VI
Mikela Junemann (7) and nine of her teammates will be back next year, leading Kathy McGeehan, East Hampton’s coach, to hope that they’ll advance further in the county tournament than the quarterfinals. Craig Macnaughton

East Hampton High School’s girls volleyball team, which proved compelling this season what with the strong all-around play of Mikela Junemann (especially at the net), the setting of Elle Johnson, and the grit of its defenders, Molly Mamay and — until she got hurt — Zoe Leach chief among them, lost a quarterfinal county playoff match in five here on Halloween after dropping the first two sets.

The opponent, East Islip, the county A bracket’s fifth seed (East Hampton was seeded fourth), won in the end, 25-21, 25-22, 15-25, 26-28, 25-21.

“I can only attribute [the loss] to good serving by E.I. and to our sophomore and junior-laden team’s inexperience,” Kathy McGeehan, East Hampton’s veteran coach, said afterward. “I’m still baffled as to why we couldn’t sideout with our first rotation in the fifth set. . . . I hope playing in a hard-fought playoff match before an electric crowd will inspire our returning players to go beyond the quarterfinals next year.”

A half-dozen service errors helped do the Bonackers in in the first set. Still, it was close going down the stretch. A service error by Mary Macdonald, who had come off the bench, treated the visitors to a 22-19 lead, but a kill by Erin Decker got the ball back into East Hampton’s hands. The Bonackers, however, could win only one of the four succeeding points — on a crosscourt kill by Madyson Neff that made it 21-24. Her subsequent serve sailed long, and that was it.

The Bonackers were up 21-15 in the second set, but couldn’t hold on. East Islip tied it at 21-21 on a hitting error by Decker, after which the visitors reeled off the remaining four points.

East Hampton won the third, trailing only once on its way to a 25-15 final. 

A kill by Junemann treated McGeehan’s crew to an 18-12 lead in the fourth, and East Hampton held on — though barely. There were five ties in crunch time, during which East Islip came up empty on four set points before East Hampton, which tied it at 26-26 on a double block by Ella Gurney and Olivia Brauer, came through with kills by Neff, to the endline, and by Gurney, after she’d been set at the middle of the net by Johnson.

You would have thought that spirited 28-26 win would have carried over into the early moments of the pivotal fifth, but it didn’t. East Islip’s setter reeled off nine service points before the Bonackers, thanks to a kill by Junemann, sided out. It was all uphill after that. 

East Hampton was still down by nine, at 12-21, Junemann having just hit the antenna at the left side of the net, as the endgame neared.

A long kill attempt put the ball in Decker’s hands. A kill by Neff, an East Islip error, and a dink by Neff brought East Hampton to 16-21. A dink by East Islip made it 16-22, but then Neff hit the line for 17-22. 

With Maddie Smullen serving, a returnable ball was allowed to hit the floor as players exchanged Alphonse and Gaston looks. That miscue put East Islip within two points of the match. 

A subsequent error by Gurney made it 17-24. East Hampton fought back to 21-24 thanks to a netted serve and double hit by East Islip, a service ace by Brauer, and a two-handed lob to the endline by Neff, before the visitors put the match away as one of their hitters ripped a kill through a double block.

Afterward, McGeehan said she would nominate Johnson as a member of the all-county tournament team for her 43 assists and 18 digs. Mamay, she said, had 46 digs, a personal best.

“We will miss our two seniors, Olivia Brauer and Maddie Smullen,” she said, “but with 10 returning players we hope they will be more prepared and more confident when the playoffs arrive next year.”

“I was so proud of their effort and resilience the other day, to come back the way they did after losing the first two sets — also by the way they came back in the fifth,” McGeehan continued. “I thought it was a beautiful battle between two evenly matched teams.”

East Hampton’s boys volleyball team also made the playoffs, those contested by the county’s smaller schools. The fourth seed in Division II, Josh Brussell’s team lost at first-seeded Hauppauge Saturday. Hauppauge and Sayville were to play for the Division II title at Suffolk Community College-Brentwood yesterday.

The girls finished with a 10-4 record in League VI, behind Sayville and Westhampton Beach, each at 13-1. They were 11-4 over all. The boys, who prevailed 3-2 over Shoreham-Wading River in the last game of the regular season, were 6-12 over all.