By Bill Landon
Smithtown East continues to dominate the volleyball court.
The girls’ team improved to 8-0 and remain atop the League III leaderboard with a three-set win over Riverhead Oct. 17, 25-11, 25-11 and 25-10.
Smithtown East head coach George Alamia did not start several of his starters in an effort to keep the score close and enhance his younger players, but it didn’t matter.
“They’re great team leaders — they make everyone around them better and as you can see we don’t have a huge drop off when they don’t play,” Alamia said. “Today we had good ball control against [Riverhead] and our back up setter Marissa Oliveri has great hands and she moved the ball around really well today.”
The Bulls started out slow in the first set, but retook the lead 8-7 and showed their dominance, rattling off point after point to put the set away, stringing together 11 unanswered points along the way.
Sophomore right side hitter Grace Faulhaber said her teams’ strength was its ability to rally back even after falling behind.
“I loved the way even when we lost the point, we found a way to get it back,” she said. “We dig deep, we’ll get that pass and then [we can] get that hit.”
The second set was much like the first, and Alamia continued to go deeper into his bench.
“As a team, we all work together — we never get down on each other and we always find a way to push through points to stay in the game,” junior outside hitter Alex Colon said. “We motivate each other and it’s [how we] bond together. That’s the most important part of the game.”
Senior outside hitter Haley Anderson, an All-State and All-Long Island player the last two years, along with senior libero Jill Pesce, junior outside hitter Steph Berdon and junior setter Brooke Berroyer all watched the action from the sidelines.
Alamia said the quartet provides the ingredients that are enabling his team to compete for a 10th consecutive League III title, adding that the players bring the consistency and a championship attitude every day to practice.
With the balance of the roster seeing action in the third set though, you wouldn’t know the power foursome wasn’t in the mix.
Alamia said he will continue to focus on strengthening his secondary going down the stretch in preparation for the postseason.
“When we go around and Haley’s in the back row, we need to grow in some areas offensively,” the head coach said. “We’ve made progress — we’ve gotten better — and I think we’ll be at our strongest come playoff time.”
Senior middle Kate Chong said her team’s defense continues to make the difference.
“We picked up a lot of balls — even the ones that were close,” Chong said. “We just push ourselves so hard, and we’ve been playing together since sixth grade, so we have a strong bond.”