Things were going smoothly, almost surprisingly so, given the caliber of competition the Greenport/Southold girls volleyball team was facing. The First Settlers were leading, 13-11, in the first set. And then everything changed.
Mattituck’s Jordan Osler stepped to the service line for her second time through the rotation and the match wasn’t the same after that. The Tuckers went on a 12-0 burst during that stretch of Osler serves, sending them on the way to their second three-set win over Greenport this season.
“We were starting to roll, and then she just ran off  straight points, and that just broke us, and we just didn’t come back from it the whole match,” Greenport coach Mike Gunther said after the 25-15, 25-9, 25-18 loss at Greenport High School on Friday. “She has the wickedest serve I’ve seen in a while. She has a very nasty floater and it’s very close to the end line … a very challenging serve to pass.”
Challenges are something the Porters are accustomed to. And here’s another challenge: trying to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2015.
After going 4-30 the past three seasons, Greenport (4-6, 4-5 Suffolk County League VIII) is not as much of a long shot to reach the playoffs this year, but it still won’t be easy. With their five-set victory at Babylon Monday, the Porters need to win two of their remaining three league matches in order to make that happen. After a non-league match at Longwood, they will have league contests at home to Shelter Island, at Port Jefferson and at home to Ross.
“We need to win six [league] games to be able to get to make it to playoffs, and that’s our goal right now,” senior setter Elizabeth Jernick said. “It would be amazing to make it into playoffs because I’ve been on varsity since freshman year and we never made it to playoffs.”
The Porters say they have improved, are more organized and more focused than a year ago. Even so, a team like Mattituck, the defending Long Island Class C and League VIII champion, is always going to present a challenge.
Greenport senior outside hitter Courtney Cocheo said playing Mattituck “pushes us, definitely. We can see us getting better. That’s why we play them. Obviously, we know, we’ve had a struggle playing against them, but it’s a chance for us to get better.”
Serve receive was Greenport’s downfall Friday, but tough serving from Osler and Viki Harkin had a lot to do with that.
Jernick repeatedly emphasized the importance of on-court communication. “I would say we definitely talk a lot more, but we also have to continue to do that because our biggest downfall still — the same from last year — is once we get in that hole, it’s hard to get out of it,” she said.
If they get out of this hole, they will find themselves in the playoffs.
“We should get in playoffs,” Gunther said. “I don’t know if we will … We have to beat the teams we should beat.”
Photo caption: Greenport/Southold’s Silvia Rackwitz tries to block a hit by Mattituck’s Bridget Ryan. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)