The Mattituck girls volleyball team is in the pink.
That could have been taken literally Thursday when the Tuckers donned personally decorated pink shirts with names and uniform numbers for their Dig Pink home match against Ross. Dig Pink is a volleyball event that raises money for metastatic breast cancer research and treatments through the Side-Out Foundation. The Tuckers embraced the event, some of them even dying their hair pink for the occasion and getting together for a pasta party the day before.
Outside hitter Abby Woods said, “We love doing things like this.”
When players have fun, they feel good and when they feel good, they tend to play better. It’s been a winning formula for Mattituck, which continued its winning ways Thursday with a 25-6, 25-15, 25-11 win over Ross at Cutchogue East Elementary School.
First-place Mattituck (12-1, 12-0 Suffolk County League VIII) is seeking its eighth league championship since 2004. Last year Mattituck shared the league title with Port Jefferson, which sat in second place entering Thursday’s action with 12-2, 10-1 records.
Defending Long Island Class C champion Mattituck’s next match will be Monday at Port Jefferson before the Tuckers close out the regular season at home Wednesday against Babylon.
How much would another league crown mean to the Tuckers?
“Very important,” Woods said. “I think that like if we didn’t get it, it would kind of be a letdown.”
Asked the same question, coach Frank Massa answered: “We’re looking to win the next game. Wherever that falls into place, that falls into place. If it does, we’re just looking to play well and be at our best entering the playoffs.”
Mattituck has a star player in senior outside hitter Sage Foster, but it takes more than one player to win big matches, especially in the playoffs. That’s why it’s a good thing for the Tuckers that they have Woods, another senior, hitting the ball so well from the outside and Carolyn Conroy providing delightful setting. Massa said he has also been getting good play from middle hitters Sofia Knudsen and Caroline Little and libero Jolin Chen.
Speaking of Woods, Massa said: “I had mentioned to her, not only has she improved from last year, she’s improved since the beginning of this year. She is one of the most coachable players I’ve ever had, absolutely. Every time I gave her some coaching advice, asked her to, you know, maybe come back a little bit further on her approach, start thinking about going down the line with the ball a little bit, she almost immediately will take that advice and just run with it.”
Woods, a former middle hitter playing outside hitter for the first time this season, said the position change had something to do with her improved hitting. “I think hitting from the middle and hitting from the outside is different because on the outside you get a big approach,” she said. “It’s like I come in, jump as high as I can and hit the ball just as hard as I can.”
Meanwhile, Conroy has been astute enough not to force things that aren’t there.
“At the beginning of the year she was trying to use Sage too much as a safety net in trying to get all bad balls to her when she can use her athletic ability to make her own play,” Massa said. “And that’s what she’s starting to do now. She’s starting to make her own plays.”
Woods said “walking into the season, we had Emma [McGunnigle], who was going to be our main setter who tore her ACL. So we had like four setters, not knowing who was going to be our main setter and [Conroy] definitely stepped up. I love her as a setter. She’s doing amazing.”
Conroy compiled 20 assists and had two aces on 19-for-20 serving Thursday. Foster put away 10 kills to go with two aces.
Ross (2-9, 2-9) served the ball only seven times in the first set. For the match, the Cosmos served only 34 times at a 61.8% rate to Mattituck’s 91.7% over 72 serves.
Woods has noticed that as the season has progressed, Mattituck’s practices have gotten tougher and longer. That’s by design.
As Mattituck gets closer to crunch time, Conroy said, “We just got to make sure we really focus and put our hard work into it.”
“Right now we’re doing good,” Massa said. “The mental part of the game is gonna start coming in soon when they start realizing that, you know, starting next week, every team that we play is going to be a playoff team, so it’s gonna be a rough road and hopefully our girls are up to the task.”