Winning championships is addictive. It never gets stale. It’s always fresh, and the excitement of it doesn’t diminish from championship to championship.
Frank Massa, coach of the Mattituck High School girls volleyball team, admits he has been bitten by the winning bug. That’s not a bad thing.
The Tuckers have made a habit of going to Glens Falls in November to compete in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championships. They have made that trip three times in the last four years, their reward for winning Long Island Class C championships those years. That includes last year when a defeat of Carle Place gave the Tuckers a 10-7 record and yet another ticket to go upstate.
“When the last ball hits the floor, it’s probably the most excitement you can feel as a coach,” said Massa.
The Tuckers lost all six of their games in Glens Falls (they have an 0-18 career record in state tournament games), but getting there is the thing.
“I try to stress to the girls how good that feeling is,” said Massa.
Whether the Tuckers have what it takes to qualify for the state tournament again remains to be seen, but it would appear they have some good pieces to work with.
Emilie Reimer, a senior middle hitter, was an all-league player last year. The Tuckers have four other returning starters, too, in junior setter Carly Doorhy, senior libero Julia Orlando, senior outside hitter Lizzie Wilcenski and senior defensive specialist Courtney Benediktsson.
And that’s not all. Four other seniors — outside hitters Lisa Angel and Caralee Stevens, defensive specialist Constantina Leodis and middle hitter Colby Prokop — also offer varsity experience.
The 17-player roster includes middle hitters Skyler Grathwohl, Dawn Rochon and Caroline Keil, outside hitters Allie Becker and Thurlamu Sherpa, setters Erin Seeney and Meghan McKillop, and defensive specialist Maria Capichana. They are all juniors.
So, what are the Tuckers’ chances of returning to Glens Falls? That’s hard to say right now, before they have even served a ball in a match.
“You got to see what the competition is like,” said Massa, who has been coaching the Tuckers since 1987. “You got to see how we jell. I think we’re going to give it a good shot. Things have to go our way.”
He added, “You not only have to have the talent but you have to be putting it together at the right time.”
Mike Gunther returns for his second stint as Greenport/Southold’s coach. The Clippers went 27-13 and reached the playoffs in two of his three years with them, from 1999 to 2001.
Jenna Standish, a senior outside hitter, was an all-conference player last year. Sam Henry, a senior libero, and junior Mercedes Edwards were both all-league players. Henry was the team’s most valuable player and received an award as League VIII’s best defensive specialist. Edwards played setter, middle hitter and right-side hitter over the course of the season.
Also returning are senior Megan Murray and juniors Marina DeLuca, Rosa Hernandez and Gina Anasagasti. DeLuca and Henry are the only remaining players from the Clippers’ county Class C final team in 2012.