The East Hampton High School girls volleyball team swept Bayport-Blue Point in three during the regular season and it did so again here Saturday in a county Class B playoff semifinal, but this time it wasn’t so easy.
The Phantoms put up a good fight, almost pulling out the pivotal second set before a service ace by Katie Brierley, East Hampton’s libero, and a tip at the net over a double block by Carley Seekamp capped a 27-25 win.
East Hampton, which had won the first set 25-15, then went on to put the visitors away 25-20 in the third.
The victory enabled Kathy McGeehan’s team to advance to the county Class B final against perennial champion John Glenn. That match was to have been played yesterday at Bay Shore High School. The winner is to play in the Long Island championship game at St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue Sunday at 5.
The state Final Four is to be contested at the Glens Falls Civic Center over the November 16-17 weekend.
East Hampton lost to Glenn — the defending state and Long Island champion — in last year’s county final, but during a conversation Monday morning McGeehan said she liked East Hampton’s chances, even though, “at that tournament in Horseheads, they made it out of their pool into the championship bracket and we didn’t. They’ve won, what is it, 21 straight league championships and 11 or 12 straight Long Island championships, so our work will definitely be cut out for us, but I think we’re peaking at the right time.”
In the first set Saturday, the Bonackers had their way. Following a booming serve by Raya O’Neal, Seekamp was called for touching the net in the process of tapping back a weak return, resulting in a sideout at 24-15, but a subsequent Bayport hitting error gave East Hampton the victory, at 25-15.
As aforesaid, the second set proved to be a nail-biter. East Hampton trailed initially, until, with Cassidy Walsh serving, the Bonackers, who had been down by 5 points, fought back to 18-18. They then went up 23-19, and seemed on the verge of putting the Phantoms away, but the visitors surged to 23-22 and had the serve.
A push by Jenna Budd to the endline got the ball back for her team, but Bayport sided out as the result of a dink over the front line, and tied the count at 24 when Lydia Budd misplayed a serve that would have been out.
Bayport had a chance to win it at 25-24, but a tip by Seekamp, who was assisted by O’Neal, tied the score at 25-25, setting the scene for Brierley’s ace and Seekamp’s winning tip at the net.
McGeehan’s charges were unheaded in the third as O’Neal unleashed resounding kills, though it was a gentle tip by her that closed out the match at 25-20.
Stat-wise, O’Neal finished with 19 kills, just two shy of her all-time high for a three-set match, 18 assists, and 13 digs. Seekamp had 10 kills and 8 service aces, Lydia Budd had 23 assists, Brierley had 20 digs, and Jenna Budd had 12.