Not all wins are equal. Some are bigger, and harder to come by, than others. And some wins are just monumental.
The Mattituck High School girls volleyball team experienced the latter, not once, but twice within a 13-day span. The Tuckers caused a stir in Suffolk County League VII by defeating both defending co-league champions, Bayport-Blue Point and Elwood/John Glenn, by 3-1 scores in Mattituck. The Oct. 2 triumph over Glenn, winner of 16 straight county championships before being dethroned last year by Bayport, marked the first time Mattituck had ever beaten the Knights, according to Mattituck coach Frank Massa. Massa called them the two most gratifying regular-season wins he has experienced in his 30 years coaching the Tuckers.
“I’ve never felt something like that before,” said senior setter Ashley Chew, recounting the emotional win over Glenn.
With outside hitters Madison Osler and Viki Harkin swinging at balls from a variety of areas on the court, Mattituck matched the firepower of both perennial powers.
“The level of play was so high and the amount of power on both sides of the net, it was nice to see that we came out on top,” said Massa.
Osler, who was credited with 16 kills against Glenn, said, “I didn’t really know how well this team was going to do this year and watching them take on the heat from both teams was incredible.”
One of the memories Chew takes away from the triumph over Glenn was the look on Massa’s face when the final point was recorded. “He was just so happy and it was just so great to see that,” she said. “That was special.”
Glenn had defeated Mattituck, 3-1, in the season-opening match for both teams on Sept. 5. Heading into Tuesday’s matches, the standings showed Glenn (8-1, 8-1) in first place, followed by Mattituck (7-2, 6-1) and Bayport (5-3, 5-2). All three are Class B teams that Massa said are clumped closely together in terms of talent. Mattituck, which last won a league title in 2004, will play at Bayport on Oct. 17.
“One of us probably is going to have to go through the other two to get to the Suffolk County final,” said Massa.
Mattituck corrected serve receive issues it had in its opening loss to Glenn. In the rematch, libero Jordan Osler, Madison’s sister, served at 95 percent. She aced the 24th point in the third set. “She was putting the ball over hard, not too much spin, really no spin, and serving it hard, so we were getting some nice looks off of her serve,” said Massa.
And Chew’s accurate setting was a huge factor. “Chewy throughout those games was putting the ball 85, 90 percent to a spot where somebody’s getting a good swing out of it,” said Massa.
Mattituck’s lineup has included Jaime Gaffga and Rachel Janis as the middle hitters. Depending on the offense the Tuckers run, Cassidy Bertolas and Julia Vasile-Cozzo can be setting.
Speaking of the two big wins, Massa said: “I knew that we were going to play well, that we would be able to stay with them and if we really picked our game up, we had a shot. I think our hitters right now can match up fairly well to both Bayport and Glenn. Glenn’s serving is really tough. Neither one of those teams give you easy points so it’s going to be a dogfight the whole way.”
Mattituck players said those victories have brought the team confidence. In the past, the Tuckers had to deal with the intimidation factor of facing a team of Glenn’s stature. “The name on the shirt definitely intimidated us,” said Chew.
Mattituck can’t live on its laurels, though. As much as those two wins sparkle and shine, they are now just Ws in the win column.
“It was good, but like I told the girls the other day, it’s past now,” Massa said. “I don’t want the pinnacle of the season to happen in October. I want it to happen in November.”
Photo caption: Coach Frank Massa and his Mattituck High School girls volleyball team has produced big wins over perennial powers Bayport-Blue Point and Elwood/John Glenn. (Credit: Bob Liepa)