Girls Volleyball: Squandered leads hurt Tuckers’ playoff prospects

BAYMEN 25, 25, 25, TUCKERS 21, 20, 22

Two games cruelly slipped from its grasp, and with them the Mattituck High School girls volleyball team has all but seen its playoff hopes slip into uncertainty.

The Tuckers blew an 11-point lead in the first game, four 5-point leads in the third game, and dropped a tough loss to Hampton Bays, 25-21, 25-20, 25-22, on Thursday at Mattituck High School. With the victory, its fifth in a row, Hampton Bays (10-3, 6-3 in Suffolk County League VII) clinched a playoff berth for at least the sixth straight year, according to coach Andy Fotopoulos.

Mattituck’s playoff picture is murky. The defending Long Island Class C champions, who dropped to 6-8, 4-6, need to win their two remaining matches, both on the road, in order to gain automatic entry into the postseason. They will play first-place Bayport-Blue Point (10-2, 8-0) on Oct. 22 and last-place Southampton (0-8, 0-8) on Oct. 28.

Should they fall short, the Tuckers could petition Section XI for a playoff place, arguing that some of their losses have come to Class B teams like Bayport-Blue Point, Elwood/John Glenn and Hampton Bays.

It was Senior Day in Mattituck. Handmade signs were hung on the bleachers in honor of the team’s nine seniors. Each of the seniors was announced to the crowd during a ceremony before the match. They received flowers from assistant coach Kelly Pickering and a hug from coach Frank Massa.

One of those seniors, Emilie Reimer, played one of her best matches in a Mattituck uniform. The middle hitter crushed 12 kills, had 3 blocks, 2 dinks and 2 service aces. She went 16 of 16 from the service line.

Despite Reimer’s efforts, the Tuckers saw their 16-5 lead in the first game evaporate as Hampton Bays awoke from its doldrums. With a strong net presence by Alex Maitland-Ward (9 kills, 4 blocks, 3 dinks) and some good serving by Samantha Pace (23 of 24), the Baymen made their biggest single-game comeback of the season. A Pace ace, a pair of blocks and a kill by Maitland-Ward and a dink by Alexis Fotopoulos down the stretch helped Hampton Bays finish the opening game on a 10-1 run.

The Tuckers looked as if they might pull a comeback act themselves in the second game after they fell into a 20-12 hole. The Tuckers cut into that lead and pulled as close as 22-20 before the Baymen closed out the game.

In the third game, successive dinks by Reimer and Lizzie Wilcenski, followed by a Reimer kill, gave Mattituck a 19-14 lead. It wasn’t safe. Hampton Bays recovered, evening the score at 21-21 on an ace by Lisa Kling and then going in front moments later on a kill by Pace.

The Baymen finished the match with kills by Elizabeth Ottati and Pace and a dink by Fotopoulos that served as the coup de grâce.

The Tuckers were left with blank looks on their faces when it ended. Some of them looked straight up. Carly Doorhy, who had 15 assists, bit her shirt.

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