The switch flipped — at least a few times.
Mike Gunther doesn’t know what to expect one day from the next when he walks into a gym. The Greenport/Southold high school girls volleyball coach has seen his team play better than it did last year, play worse than it did last year, and varying degrees between those two extremes.
Without warning, the switch can be flipped on or off.
Gunther discussed the Clippers’ puzzling ways on Tuesday, and then his team went out and demonstrated exactly what he was talking about.
After a great start to their match at Port Jefferson High School, and with a playoff berth at stake, the Clippers showed the gamut of their game — from the good to the not so good. They twice took one-game leads in the match before finally succumbing in five games after momentum swung Port Jefferson’s way. Marianna Spentzos had 8 kills and 7 assists while Katie Chorao supplied 10 assists as the Royals prevailed, 12-25, 30-28, 24-26, 25-23, 25-20.
The Clippers (3-4, 3-2 Suffolk County League VII) outscored Port Jefferson in points, 122-116. They also held advantages in kills (26-18) and assists (29-21), but had nothing to show for it afterward.
A win would have clinched a second straight playoff berth for the Clippers, whose next match will be Thursday evening at The Stony Brook School.
The Royals (5-4, 5-3) were a happy group before the Clippers arrived. It was team photo day, and they even formed a pyramid for the camera.
Both teams wore nearly identical uniforms: white shirts with purple piping and black shorts. The only difference was that the Clippers’ uniform had a stripe down each side.
A bigger difference emerged between the teams once play began and the Clippers ran off the game’s first 9 points behind Gina Anasagasti’s serving. They were hardly challenged in the first game, but the rest of the match wasn’t easy.
Port Jefferson persevered in a marathon of a second game, which was capped with a kill and a dink by Leslye Rosario. The Royals overcame a 20-11 deficit in that game.
Port Jefferson showed its comeback ability in the fourth game, too, winning after trailing by 19-13.
One could sense the Clippers losing control and the Royals gaining confidence as the decisive fifth game progressed. Seven straight points by Port Jefferson gave the Royals a 19-13 lead. Although the Clippers managed to pull to within 21-20, Port Jefferson wrapped it up with a kill by Spentzos on match point.
Sidney Mulvaney had 21 assists for the Clippers, who also received 8 kills from Mercedes Edwards and 7 kills each from Marina DeLuca and Rosa Hernandez.
After shaking hands with the Royals, the Clippers walked off the court with subdued looks on their faces, as if they were trying to figure out just where things went wrong for them.
Photo: Greenport/Southold players share a laugh during a break in Tuesday’s match in Port Jefferson. (Credit: Bob Liepa)