Opening day is open and shut for Tigers volleyball

Opening day is open and shut for Tigers volleyball

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Northport celebrates winning its season opener against Comsewogue. All photos by Steven Zaitz

By Steven Zaitz

Students across Long Island squeezed one last day out of summer vacation Tuesday, Sept. 5, but the Northport Tiger boys volleyball team was certainly open for business.

The Tigers traveled to Port Jefferson Station and vanquished the Comsewogue Warriors in three straight games, barely breaking a sweat. The scores were 25-17, 25-17 and a final dominating game of 25-8 to close out the match.

It marked the debut of new head coach, Liz Capra — Northport Class of 2000, former lady Tiger volleyball star and University of Delaware graduate. She was the girls junior varsity coach last year and has now taken over from the departed Amanda DiPietro, who had piloted the team since 2008.

The Tigers dominated the match from wire to wire as senior middle hitters Brendan Fenlon and Peter Kucza imposed their size over the smaller front line of Comsewogue. Fenlon had eight kills and Kucza had six to go along with his seven blocks at the net. Setter Dylan Sofarelli had an eye-popping 23 assists as well as 6 digs.

“It felt like nobody could stop us out there tonight,” said Sofarelli. “There is no better feeling than that, and it was awesome.”

Capra was pleased about the way  the way the Tigers played as a team, considering that the season is in its infancy.

“It was a total team effort tonight,” Capra said. “We served very well, got the ball deep, and that kept them from easily setting up their offense.”

The Tigers took advantage by taking shallow returns and bombing away from every angle, spiking the ball almost at will against the outgunned Warriors.

Above, middle hitter Peter Kucza with one of his six kills. Photo by Steven Zaitz

“It’s a great way to kick off the year,” Kucza said. “Coach Capra had us prepared, she’s very knowledgeable about the game. We really had a good plan and once we started to get warmed up, we played really well.”

Getting warmed up was not exactly difficult for either team on this day, as it was 90 degrees outside at the start of the match and probably an extra 10 degrees inside the Comsewogue gym. In fact, the volleyball itself had to be switched out several times due to moisture accumulation and the floor had to be mopped frequently between points. None of these factors slowed down Northport.

“Coach DiPietro did such an amazing job of building a strong foundation for this program,” said Capra, who as a middle hitter won two Long Island championships and three league championships as a Lady Tiger. “It’s a privilege to get the opportunity to carry on the excellence of Northport volleyball as a former player to now, 23 years later, as a coach. It feels great to start off with this win.”

If Tuesday’s match result is any indication, it will be the first of many for Capra. When asked if she’s ready for perhaps a 15-year run of her own as coach, she displayed that she has already mastered yet another aspect of coaching — handling the media.

“We got to take them one match at a time,” she said.

That next match will be at West Babylon Sept. 7. Capra will make her home debut as coach against Patchogue-Medford on Sept. 13.


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