Young Clippers starting to find their way

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Greenport/Southold sophomore Mercedes Edwards on the serve Tuesday against Ross.

CLIPPERS 3, COSMOS 0 (25-10, 25-23, 25-17)

When it comes to practice, Greenport/Southold coach Sue Kostal has a rule. If the team practices hard and gets its work done, practice will always end in two hours. If not, practice gets extended.

The current group of Clippers tend to lean toward the 2 1/2 hour range for practice. With a group of predominantly sophomores, the girls can get easily distracted.

“These kids are going to be good,” Kostal said, acknowledging that there will be some bumps along the way.

Whereas last year with a veteran team, Kostal could sit back during a match and relax at times, she has to be more on her toes this year. Such was an example in Game 2 Tuesday night against Ross at Greenport High School. The Clippers had rolled to a 25-10 win in the first game and came out playing sloppy in Game 2.

When the Cosmos took an early lead 7-6, Kostal had to sternly remind the team to focus on the task at hand.

The Clippers got the message. After falling behind by as many as five points, the Clippers got back to form and won Game 2, 25-23, en route to a 3-0 sweep. The Clippers took Game 3, 25-17.

“They’re young and they get distracted and they have fun,” Kostal said.

What the Clippers do have is a lot of potential. That much has been evident by the team’s rapid improvement from the beginning of the season to now.

“It’s a completely different team,” Kostal said. “We are coming along more and more each day.”

The Clippers picked up their second win of the season Tuesday and are now 2-4 in League VIII. A day earlier Greenport fell 3-0 to league-leading Shelter Island.

“We played a really strong game against [Shelter Island],” Kostal said. “Overall our passing has really gotten a lot better. And serving. The beginning of the season we were missing 25 serves a game, which is crazy. Now we’re missing one or two.”

With a mostly new, young team, opportunities are there for every player to earn playing time, Kostal said. One player who has gotten some more time of late is sophomore Mercedes Edwards. She sparked the Clippers in Game 1 with 15 straight points on serve as Greenport soared to a 20-5 lead.

Edwards also got the Clippers rolling in Game 3. The game was knotted at 3 when she took the serve and led the Clippers to five straight points, including one ace, for a lead they would never relinquish.

“She’s been working very hard,” Kostal said. “In the beginning of the season she was not a starter and she wanted to be on that court. She’s earned the spot right now and until somebody wants to take it away from her, she’s there.”

Sophomore Marina DeLuca had a big game for Greenport at outside hitter. Setter Sydney Mulvaney set up her for most of her kills. Junior Jenna Standish delivered some big hits as well.

As the season progresses Kostal is still trying to find the best combinations.

“Nobody’s position is set in stone,” she said. “If you get on the court, it’s your time to shine.”

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