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Girls Volleyball

Port Jefferson, fresh off their Long Island championship sweep of East Rockaway two days earlier, looked to build on that momentum in the Southeast Regional final Saturday, Nov. 11, with home court advantage against Section IX winner Millbrook. The Royals hoped to make the trip back to Glens Falls for the NYS Class C championship final. It would have been the second year in a row, but it wasn’t to be as Port Jeff fell to Millbrook 25-23, 25-17, 25-15.

During the season, seniors Olivia Sherman and Erin Henry were the one-two punch for the Royals with Henry charting 13th in the county with 169 kills and Sherman placing 15th with 161 kills, as reported by Newsday. Sherman clocked in at No. 4 in the county with 57 service aces; Thea Mangels, a freshman, was No. 8 with 51; and sophomore McKayla Pollard No. 12 with 48.

The Royals conclude their 2023 campaign with a 17-3 record and will be a force to be reckoned with next season as they lose just three seniors to graduation.

— Photos by Bill Landon

By Steven Zaitz

In a battle of two powerhouse teams, the Commack girls volleyball team beat crosstown rival Northport last Friday night.

The Lady Cougars dropped the first game 24-26 but came storming back to take the match in four games, winning the final three by scores of 25-8, 26-24, 25-16, at home Oct. 6.

Commack’s Kaitlin Curran had a monster day with 15 kills, 20 digs and four service aces. Both teams entered the match at the top of the standings in League II, but Commack now takes control of the conference, opening up a two-game lead over Northport with a 9-1 record. The Lady Tigers drop to 7-3.

“We knew Northport was going to be a tough team going into this match,” said Curran, who is tied for fourth in Suffolk County with Sarah Idler of Eastport-South Manor in kills with 147. “We never lost faith after losing that first set, and we knew if we kept a positive attitude and minimized our errors, we would come out on top.”

Lady Tiger outside hitter Emma Watts, who has 170 kills this season, good for second place in Suffolk, felt her team committed too many errors to win against such a quality opponent.

“We just had too many mistakes, and Commack did a great job in finding the weak parts in our defense,” Watts said. “It was definitely a tough loss, and we are focusing on these last few games and hopefully we will come out on top in all of them.”

Lady Cougar Maya Khan had 10 kills and 19 digs, and Molly Singer had 21 assists and four service aces. Curran’s sister Rylie had 35 digs.

For Northport, who wore all-pink uniforms to recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Chloe Mayer had 30 assists and 15 digs, and eighth grader Riley Zdrojeski had four service aces and five kills.

“We have such a talented team with some of the best hitters in Suffolk County,” Mayer said. “But we just couldn’t get the job done after winning that first game. We will regroup and be ready for our next match.”

Northport played Sachem North at home on Tuesday, Oct. 10, and Commack, who lost at Connetquot in their very first game and haven’t lost since, played at Lindenhurst on Wednesday, Oct. 11. Both results occurred too late for press time.

After edging by Miller Place in the first set having to win by two, the Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats lost the second set to make it a new match in the League VI matchup.

Squeezing by the Panthers 25-23 in the third set and rallying in the fourth set, the Wildcats were lucky to escape with the 3-1 victory, 28-26, 18-25, 25-23, 25-18, on the road Sept. 22.

Senior Giorgia Balza led the way for the Wildcats with 13 kills, a pair of aces and 4 blocks, and teammate Caroline Lange had a block with 4 kills.

Setting the pace for the Panthers was Payton Horan with 13 kills, a service ace and 2 digs along with Olivia Honkanen’s 6 kills 3 service aces and 4 digs.

The win lifts the Wildcats to 2-2, leaving the Panthers searching for that elusive first win.

Both teams are back in action Sept. 28 when the Wildcats host Bayport-Blue Point at 4 p.m. and the Panthers have a road game against nearby Mount Sinai. First service is set for 4:30 p.m.

— Photos by Bill Landon

The Lady Royals of Port Jefferson, the defending class C Long Island Champions, continued their winning ways when they opened their season at home against the Greenport/Southold Clippers Thursday, Aug. 31. 

With Port Jeff handily winning the first two matches, the Clippers wouldn’t go quietly as they threatened late in the third match, trailing by two points in the set and desperately trying to force a game four. 

The Royals settled in for the final few points in the game to sweep Greenport 25-11, 25-9, 25-22 in this League VII matchup.

Senior co-captain Olivia Sherman led the way with 11 kills as sophomore McKayla Pollard had two blocks and five kills. Lina DeLeo, a freshman, killed three. Libero Ava Reilly had 14 digs, and teammate Bianca Nakagawa notched 18 assists.

The Lady Royals retake the court for another home game against Babylon on Sept. 7, with first service scheduled for 5 p.m.

– Photo by Bill Landon

The Mattituck Tuckers hoped to avenge their first loss of the season in the Class C Suffolk County Championship at Hauppauge High School on Monday, Nov. 7.

Mattituck won the first two sets, 25-19 and 25-21. On track for a shutout win, the Lady Royals rallied and won the following two sets 25-17, forcing a final and decisive game five. 

Port Jeff broke out to an 11-7 lead in a game where 15 points would win. But Mattituck, the no. 1 seed, wouldn’t go quietly, fighting back with ferocity. 

Yet Port Jeff would go on to put the game away, 15-12, ending Mattituck’s season and advancing to the Long Island Championship round. 

Junior Olivia Sherman had 18 kills, a service ace, and 10 digs. Teammate Erin Henry killed 15, and dug out 24, along with three aces. 

The Lady Royals retake the court Thursday, Nov. 10, when they face Oyster Bay at Hauppauge High School. Game time is slated for 7:30 p.m.

— Photos by Bill Landon

Ward Melville won the first set by 10 points, looking to make it a clean sweep in the Suffolk Class AA volleyball championship Monday night, Nov. 7. However, the Commack Cougars edged the Patriots, 29-17, in the second set and 26-24 in the third.

Commack, the No. 4 seed, took command of the fourth set, picking off the Patriots, 25-20, for the county title.

Commack co-captain Mikalah Curran had 26 kills and 14 digs, and her younger sister Kaitlin killed 8, had 15 digs and two service aces.

The win lifts the Commack girls volleyball team to 14-2 this season, and they will take on Massapequa for the Long Island Championship game at Hauppauge High School on Thursday, Nov. 10. First service is slated for 5 p.m.

Looking to avenge their five-set loss to Babylon just two weeks earlier, the Lady Royals of Port Jefferson did just that in the Class C semifinals on Friday, Oct. 28.

The Royals swept the Panthers in three straight sets, 25-18, 25-15, 25-22.

The victory lifts the team’s record to 15-3 on the season. Port Jefferson, the No. 2 seed, advances to the final championship round when the team takes on the top-seeded Mattituck on Monday, Nov. 7, at Hauppauge High School.

The first service is set for 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at gofan.co/app/school/NYSPHSAAXI

Down by two sets, Smithtown East girls volleyball rallied in set three to tie the game, 22. All were looking to stay alive but Ward Melville’s relentless offensive attack was too much to handle on Oct. 27.

Sophomores Emma Bradshaw and Alexa Gandolfo delivered 19 kills between them, powering the Patriots to a three-game sweep, 25-13, 25-19, 25-22, in the quarterfinal Class AA playoff round. The win propels the No. 2 Patriots to the semifinals on Tuesday, Nov. 1, where they’ll square off against No. 3 Bay Shore at home.

Game time is scheduled at 4 p.m. Admission tickets can be purchased online at gofan.co/app/school/NYSPHSAAXI.

The Tuckers of Mattituck came knocking on Port Jeff’s door Monday, Oct. 17, sitting atop the League VIII leaderboard undefeated at 12-0. 

Looking to make it 13 in a row, the Tuckers met their match as the second-place Royals had other ideas of their own.

Port Jeff got out to a slow start, dropping the first set 25-17, but battled back in the second set to edge the Tuckers 25-22. The two juggernauts wowed the crowd, sustaining numerous extended volleys showcasing both teams’ talent. 

The Royals took the third set in convincing fashion, winning it 25-17. With their backs against the wall, Mattituck traded points with Port Jeff throughout the fourth set, then called timeout trailing 24-23. 

But the Royals closed out solidly, putting the game away 25-23 and handing Mattituck its first loss of the season with just two games remaining. 

Postseason play will begin Monday, Oct. 24.

— Photos by Bill Landon

The Northport Lady Tiger volleyball team dunked Huntington on Senior Night last Friday.

It was a straight set affair — 25-22, 25-23, 25-10.

Northport wore pink and blue face paint and streaked their hair pink, as the junior varsity Tigers wore different-colored shirts emblazoned with photos of their favorite seniors. Blue and gold balloons were festooned throughout the gymnasium.

Seniors Kaileigh Baudier, Delaney Karpf, Casey Koenig, Lauren Salmon, Tomi Sandin and Victoria Sheluk were honored, and underclassman Ava Olsen kicked off the festivities with a stirring rendition of the National Anthem.

Northport players from other teams who wrapped up their practices or games, trickled into the gym to see the Lady Tigers improve to 9-3 as they remain in second place behind Smithtown West in League II. Huntington falls to 5-7.

Emma Watts had 10 kills for the Lady Tigers and Olsen 8. Salmon and Sheluck combined for 26 assists.

Northport has one more game left on its regular season schedule. It is home against Whitman on Thursday, Oct. 20. The playoffs will begin the week of Oct. 24 with the Lady Tigers likely beginning the tournament with a home match against an opponent that is yet to be determined.

Huntington is now finished with their regular season schedule and will start the playoffs on the road, possibly against crosstown rival Walt Whitman.