VOLLEYBALL Playoff Teams Didn’t Go Gently

The playoffs’ first round went well for the East Hampton High School girls volleyball team last Thursday, though it was to lose a tough quarterfinal match at Sayville the next day. Jack Graves

    East Hampton High’s girls and boys volleyball teams were ousted from the playoffs this past week, though they went grudgingly, not gently, into the off-season.
    On Monday here, Danny Weaver’s boys team went the distance with Sayville, a team it had beaten twice before, before losing 26-24 in the fifth.
    The sidelining of his senior setter, A.J. Bennett, whose calf muscles had cramped up, with the score 21-16 in Sayville’s favor, compelled Weaver to look to his bench, a bench that included two freshmen — Pat Silich and Brady Yusko — who had been brought up from the junior varsity.
    And, Weaver said later, everyone stepped up, pulling to 23-22 following Ian Philipbar’s set that Mike Messemer smashed to the floor.
    But then, with the ball in East Hampton’s hands, Weaver called for a lineup check as Andrew Rodriguez, who’d been signaled by the referee to serve, was throwing the ball up in the air. In the confusion, Rodriguez didn’t follow through, which resulted in Sayville’s siding out.
    Ryan Fitzgerald, East Hampton’s all-county middle hitter, got the ball back right away, nailing a kill through a double block, and a few moments later, with Bonac down 24-25, Fitzgerald put the ball to the floor again, but in an instant the celebrating shifted from East Hampton’s side to Sayville’s as the net judge ruled that in putting the ball away Fitzgerald had touched the net.
    And that was it.
    Sayville, the Division II tourney’s third seed — East Hampton was the second — thus advanced to yesterday’s final versus Eastport-South Manor with a 25-20, 10-25, 32-30, 16-25, 26-24 victory.
    It was indeed hard, Weaver agreed afterward, to win three in a row.
    “It’s a tough way to end the season,” he added. “The kids were disappointed — and justly so. I’m proud of them, not only because of how well they played, even when we were in a patchwork rotation, but also because of how they responded to something that happened off the court today — something I don’t really want to go into, but it was something they needed to pick themselves up from. It was an emotionally trying day over all.”
    In the end, Weaver laid the loss to periodic poor receiving, which had thrown the offense out of sync at times.
    Despite losing a number of seniors to graduation, Bennett, Fitzgerald, Rodriguez, Pat McGuirk, and Trevor Shea among them, the coach said he expects “we’ll be right back there next year. Thomas [King, Bonac’s chief offensive threat], Evan Larsen, and Brock Lownes are juniors, and we’ll have young players like Brady Yusko, Pat Silich, and Henry Whitney up from the jayvee.”
    As aforesaid, Fitzgerald made the all-county team, as did King. McGuirk, Bennett, and Rodriguez were all-league, and Shea received an all-league honorable mention. Moreover, Fitzgerald and Shea made the all-county academic team.
    East Hampton’s girls, who had handed Hauppauge a 25-23, 25-6, 14-25, 25-12 loss in the playoffs’ first round here last Thursday — a match during which Lydia Budd, a ninth grader, reeled off 15 straight service points in the second set — were, in turn, bested in four the next day by Sayville.
    “It was a great match,” Kathy McGeehan, East Hampton’s coach, said. “The girls played really well — I’m very proud of them. Sayville’s setter and two outside hitters are seniors, and, yes, we’re a young team, but that’s not to make an excuse. We played much better against them in this playoff game than we did recently at home.”
    Early on, McGeehan said, her assistant, Sara Faraone, suggested setting the middle given the fact that Sayville was weaker there than outside, a strategy that, when the passes and sets were well aimed, yielded good results.
    “The third set was the make-or-break one,” McGeehan said. “We had three set points — at 24-23, 25-24, and 27-26 — but we couldn’t finish. In the fourth, Sayville went up 7-2, but we eventually tied it at 19-19 and pushed ahead 22-21 before losing 25-23. . . . Sara and I couldn’t have asked for anything more — the girls played great volleyball. As it was, any team in our league was capable, as Sayville has been, of moving forward.”
    While she will lose Katla Thorsen, who “developed into a great all-around player this year,” and her two middles, Sarah Johnson and Melissa Perez, to graduation, “we’ve got a strong group coming back.”
    Tryouts for the traveling East End Waves 10-and-up teams, McGeehan added, will be held at Sportime in Amagansett beginning Nov. 28. Asked how many age-group teams there would be, the coach said, “I don’t know yet — not until we have the tryouts. We’ve had four or five teams in the past.”