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Top Sports Stories 2019: Early exit for Tuckers

The end of the season came earlier than the Mattituck High School girls volleyball team wanted it to.

It was going to take a talented team with plenty of determination and fortitude to stop the Tuckers, and Pierson/Bridgehampton was that team.

Mattituck’s dream of reaching the state semifinal pool for a seventh time was cut short by Pierson in a wild Suffolk County Class C final at Greenport High School.

The decisive fifth set was tied at 23-23 before a kill down the line by Sam Cox and a driven ball that the Tuckers couldn’t handle settled things for the Whalers. Pierson prevailed in the dramatic marathon, 22-25, 29-27, 20-25, 25-22, 25-23.

Top-seeded Mattituck (15-2), the defending Long Island champion making its 17th straight appearance in the playoffs, had won six county championships in the previous nine years. The Tuckers, coming off a second straight league championship, were devastated by the loss to Pierson, though, a team they had beaten twice during the regular season.

“I have respect for how hard they work and how they leave it all on the court,” Cox, a senior outside hitter, said of the Tuckers. “We both played to the last point, and that’s what made it so interesting.”

It was a disappointing ending to Frank Massa’s 33rd year as Mattituck’s coach. He saw Pierson return some of the best hits Mattituck had to offer.

“They played a hell of a match tonight,” Massa said. “It was like playing against a brick wall.”

Cox was a big part of it with her 37 kills.

In their final match for Mattituck, Viki Harkin had 20 kills and Charlotte Keil rang up 13 kills, four blocks, three service aces and three assists.

“I wasn’t shocked that it was close,” Massa said. “I was shocked that we could never go on a run. We’d get up by two or three points and they’d get around and just put it right back at us. So, they played a great match.”