In its totality, it wasn’t a lights-out performance by the Mattituck girls volleyball team (although the first set certainly could be described that way and the lights and power in the Mattituck High School gym briefly went out just as Pierson/Bridgehampton’s Lyra Aubry was about to serve in the second set).
Defending Long Island Class C champion Mattituck came out like gangbusters and blew through Pierson in the first set in stunning fashion, 25-8. It looked like this was going to be an easy match for Mattituck.
Pierson had other ideas.
“We were excited,” Mattituck outside hitter Sage Foster said. “We were like, ‘Alright, we’ll be out of here. We’ll get our homework done. There’s school tomorrow.’ But then that second set started. It wasn’t very [good].”
Pierson turned the tables on the Tuckers by taking the second set, 25-22. Mattituck recovered to win the third set, 25-18, but Pierson wasn’t going to make this easy for the Tuckers. A 25-22 fourth set by Pierson forced a decisive fifth set. That is when Mattituck showed some semblance of its first-set self, winning, 15-6, in its home opener Tuesday.
“It was a little stressful because then we knew that we had to win; we had to make sure we won the last set,” Mattituck setter Carolyn Conroy said of her second varsity match.
Mattituck coach Frank Massa may have had a hard time believing what he was seeing at times. The Tuckers (2-0 overall and in Suffolk County League VIII) had their issues.
“We were passing everything, we were setting everything and we were killing everything,” said Massa, whose team last year reached its seventh state tournament semifinal pool after going 15-2 in matches. “It was exactly what I was hoping to see. And then exactly what I did not want to see is what I saw for the majority of the rest of the match.”
Pierson (0-2, 0-2) celebrated after Grace Flanagan (11 kills) used deft touch at the net for a point, followed by her shot to the deep right corner to wrap up the fourth set.
But Mattituck took charge in the fifth set. Conroy’s service ace made it 7-1. Later, Foster put away a kill and back-to-back aces for an 11-4 cushion.
Foster looked as good as ever and seemed to hit the ball as hard as ever. The senior was credited with 24 kills as she helped pull Mattituck to victory.
“There’s few girls that you coach or you get to see play that you know just absolutely rocket the ball like she does,” Massa said. “That’s nice to see, but we need production from the other members of the team. A little bit more. This way we’re not just, you know, just a one-hitter team.
“You want everyone to contribute. We did have a little bit of it, but not as much as we’re going to need.”
Mattituck’s inconsistency can be attributed to an early-season match by a team that has players in new positions and players in more expanded roles.
Emma Pearsall was on the team last year, but was not a starter; she’s a starter on the right side now. Conroy, who had 15 assists, played for the junior varsity team last year. This is setter Jamie Schwartz’ first year as a starter. Setter Leah Weir and middle hitter Caroline Little are both in their first varsity season. Outside hitter Abby Woods is playing a new position.
It doesn’t help that Emma McGunnigle, who would have been a starting setter, is out for the season with a torn ACL.
So, there’s a fair degree of newness for the Tuckers to deal with.
Pierson received 18 assists and five aces from Ashley Weatherwax and six kills, three aces and two blocks by Finn Goodale.
Massa said Pierson, after the first set, “fought tooth and nail and I loved their spirit.” At the same time, he said, “unforced errors were a major problem for us throughout the rest of the match.”
Said Foster, “We definitely learned a good lesson that we need to communicate and just like take a deep breath and not let a shanked ball or double touch just get us down.”
It wasn’t exactly lights-out stuff, but a win’s a win.