By Bill Landon
Northport’s boys’ volleyball team (now 8-2 League 1) limited visiting Center Moriches (now 4-7) to just 33 total points in the Tigers’ sweep Oct. 18, 25-10, 25-9, 25-14.
From the opening serve, Northport overwhelmingly dominated the net, blocking shot after shot and serving strongly, limiting the Red Devils to 10 points in the first set.
Northport head coach Amanda DiPietro rested her starters for the second set, but it only got worse for Center Moriches, as the bench demonstrated the team’s depth. The Tigers broke out to an 11-3 lead before Center Moriches scored again.
“I felt confident that if I put my subs in, they could get the job done,” DiPietro said. “They came out with a lot of energy, and we just played our game and we felt confident on our side [of the net].”
The margin grew to 18-5 before Center Moriches called timeout, but the conference didn’t help. The Tigers allowed just four more points before putting away the set.
“We wanted to let everybody get a chance to play,” senior middle hitter Jamie O’Donnell said. “It was a smart decision by the coaches to do that. We didn’t have many unforced errors either, so we did well to keep that under control.”
Northport fell behind 4-1 early in the third set, but switched gears, forgoing the power serves for aces by playing it safe and just putting the ball in play. Center Moriches grew tired and began making mental mistakes, which proved costly as the Tigers clawed their way to tie, and eventually take an 8-6 lead.
“Our job today was to just get the ball over the net, put the ball in play and let them make their own errors,” senior outside hitter Chris Parker said. “We served almost every ball inbounds, which was important.”
None of the starters had seen action since the first set, except for team captain Jeremy Rescott, a senior setter who directed his band of nonstarters to keep the ball in play, and let their opponent beat themselves.
“Our strategy was to keep our serves in and cut down on as many errors,” Rescott said. “We knew this was a team we could play conservatively [if we played mistake free].”
Senior right side hitter Sam Maritato finished the job for Northport by blasting an unexpected service ace to take the third set, 25-14, to win in straight sets.
Rescott led his team with six kills, Parker added five and O’Donnell finished with four. Junior setter Ben Sandt led his team in assists, with 14.
“I think our libero Andrew Roniger is one of the most underrated players — he’s so confident and although he’s quiet he really takes charge on the court,” DiPietro said of the way the senior played throughout the match. “I’m always impressed with my captains Jeremy Rescott, Chris Parker and Jamie O’Donnell, too, they’re just leaders on and off the court. But still, when you take them out, we have other guys that step up.”
Northport has four games remaining in the regular season, two of which will be critical for playoff seeding. The Tigers faced Smithtown West (7-2) Oct. 19, but results were not available by press time. Northport will meet West Islip Oct. 24, before taking on undefeated Sachem North on Oct. 26 at home 5:45 p.m. Then comes Half Hollow Hills Oct. 31.