Used to fielding perennial powerhouses, Kathy McGeehan, East Hampton High School’s girls volleyball coach, may have one again, though this fall, because the team is young — there are four ninth graders who are making significant contributions and three sophomores — she will in all likelihood be able to savor the satisfaction that comes from watching her players grow over the course of the campaign.
There will be few breathers this season inasmuch as the Bonackers are in a tough league, made all the more so by the addition of Elwood-John Glenn, and, as usual, are playing in large, hotly contested weekend invitational tournaments.
How far will they go? Who knows, but win or lose, this team, McGeehan thinks, promises to be an exciting one to watch.
In the week past, bouncing back from an almost-four-hour agon with Westhampton Beach, which the Hurricanes wound up winning 27-25 in the fifth game, East Hampton rocked Rocky Point in three and was a semifinalist Saturday in a 20-team tourney of mostly AA schools (East Hampton is an A) at Eastport-South Manor. The girls began playing at 8 a.m. and returned home at 7 that night.
McGeehan said neither she nor her assistant, Sara Faraone, could remember having played in or having coached in a match that went as long as the one at Westhampton did.
The Bonackers won the first game, lost the second and third, won the fourth, and, as aforesaid, lost the decisive fifth “when a mishandled ball dribbled over the net and hit the right sideline. We were wishing it out.”
With the score 24-24 (East Hampton having rallied to overcome a 4-point deficit), “Westhampton’s outside hitter slipped on a wet spot on the court and dislocated her kneecap. There was a 25-minute delay while we waited for the ambulance.”
The long wait proved to be a bit of a momentum killer, “though,” McGeehan said, “I’d rather take a loss than have my outside hitter out for a couple of weeks.”
At 25-all, an East Hampton bid for a kill landed out of bounds, and the aforementioned wished-out shot that was in ended the marathon.
Westhampton is to play here on Oct. 12, and McGeehan has circled that date on her calendar.
Besides Westhampton, Glenn, which, according to McGeehan, “hasn’t lost a league game in 11 years,” and Rocky Point, other teams in East Hampton’s league, League VI, are Sayville, Miller Place, and Amityville, a team the Bonackers bested in three in their league opener.
There were, the coach said in answer to a question concerning the playoffs, “a lot of good A schools this year — some of them are better than the double-As. Westhampton is certainly one of them, and then there are Sayville, Kings Park, Islip, Harborfields, Eastport-South Manor. . . .” Glenn is a B school.
There are four ninth graders on the varsity squad this year — Lydia Budd, Jenna Budd, Carley Seekamp, and Katie Brierley — all of whom, as aforesaid, are contributing in one way or another. The returnees include four seniors — Katla Thorsen, Melissa Perez, Mariah Dempsey, and Sarah Johnson; three juniors — Melanie Mackin, Maria Rueda Montoya, and Charlotte Wiltshire, and three sophomores — Raya O’Neal, Maggie Pizzo, and Christina Cangiolosi.
McGeehan said that Lydia Budd’s setting ability would increasingly enable the number-one setter, O’Neal, a talented sophomore, to be a part of the attack. Jenna Budd, Lydia’s twin, is, said McGeehan, “an outside hitter who serves and passes well.” Brierley is playing in the back row, and Seekamp “did a great job” at middle blocker in the tournament for Melissa Perez, a senior who had to sit out with a sore ankle.
Pizzo, a national-champion lacrosse midfielder, “is playing aggressively at libero,” the position vacated by Kim Valverde, an honorable-mention all-American now at Baruch College.
East Hampton won its pool, which included Smithtown West, Northport, Plainedge, and Walt Whitman, and defeated Bay Shore in three in a quarterfinal pairing. In the semis, Connetquot, which had upset St. Anthony’s, took two straight from the Bonackers, who didn’t get going until the second game, which ended at 25-23 in Connetquot’s favor.
The six-foot Wiltshire, who plays opposite the setter, “came into her own as a blocker on Saturday” and was named to the all-tournament team. “Offensively and defensively, it was a personal-best day for Charlotte,” said McGeehan, who added that she was “really pleased with our team’s performance. . . . It’s an exciting team. We’re going to be playing everybody as hard as we can.”