Emilie Reimer’s eyes lit up. The look on her face after she drives another volleyball to the floor and celebrates with her teammates is one of unrestrained joy. Reimer obviously loves what she does, and when someone plays like she does, what’s not to love?
Reimer is the best Mattituck High School volleyball player I have seen since I started covering the team in the mid-1990s.
Wait a minute, that would be shortchanging her. Reimer is possibly the best player I have seen from any of the six high schools in our coverage area. I would rank her up there with Amy Greene, the current Riverhead coach who was known as Amy Bullock when she spiked balls for the Blue Waves.
Reimer is an exceptional middle hitter. She can hit the ball with force, accuracy and consistency. She places shots all over the court, making her a nightmare to block. Her technique is spot on.
As Tuckers coach Frank Massa said, all one has to do is listen to the sound made by one of Reimer’s hits to know who struck the ball.
What may be most impressive of all has nothing to do with what Reimer does when she is on the front line. The senior’s hitting doesn’t stop when the rotation takes her to the back row. Carly Doorhy, the junior setter, has a knack for putting the ball up just where Reimer likes it, and then Reimer smashes it.
And then there is the other impressive thing about Reimer. As outstanding a hitter as she is, that is not all she does. She is a genuine all-around player, who can block, dig, pass, serve. You name it.
After Mattituck’s recent 25-21, 25-18, 25-20 victory over East Rockaway in the Long Island Class C regional final on Sunday, Massa marveled that Reimer “had five digs out there that I don’t think anybody else on the team gets to.”
What Reimer does best is finish points, something the Tuckers have struggled to do in years past. When it comes to the playoffs, finishing points becomes more important than ever. In the postseason, teams are less likely to make unforced errors, and points must be earned the John Houseman way.
It is true that volleyball is a team game, maybe even more so than any other team sport. The six players on the court are linked together, as if connected to the same rope. There is no place on the small court to hide a weak player. Each player’s performance has an affect on the play of her teammates.
A standout hitter alone is not enough. Without a good setter, a hitter is essentially an ornament. The hitter needs a good set. The setter needs a good pass. It’s all connected.
Having said that, where would the Tuckers be without Reimer? They would be a very different team, to be sure.
The Tuckers make full use of Reimer, and it’s a good thing for them that they do. She is the biggest reason why they will be heading up to Glens Falls for the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championships this weekend. It will be the Tuckers’ fourth appearance in the state semifinal pool in five years.
In Mattituck’s three playoff matches, Reimer has knocked down 75 of the team’s 84 kills, an astounding figure. For the record, she also has 7 blocks, 7 dinks, 3 assists, 2 service aces and is a perfect 38 of 38 from the service line.
Her move from outside hitter to middle hitter this season has been a success, one could say.
Reimer also deserves points for honesty. Asked after Sunday’s match at SUNY/Old Westbury what she thought before the season about Mattituck’s chances of returning to Glens Falls, she answered: “To be honest, I didn’t think we were going to do it. I doubted the team, I doubted myself, but I grew a lot, I feel.”
And so did the team, which now embarks on one last journey in the hope of cracking a barrier with Mattituck’s first win in a state semifinal. The Tuckers have a career 0-18 record in state semifinal games. As the cliché goes, from here on in, it’s all gravy.
“I’m so happy for the girls, the parents and the school,” Massa said. “Everybody gets to celebrate and play another week.”
Bob Liepa is the sports editor of the Suffolk Times. He can be reached at [email protected].