By Bill Landon
No. 3 Smithtown East’s girls volleyball team breezed through the opening round of the Class AA playoffs Oct. 30, taking down No. 14 Patchogue-Medford in three sets 25-13, 25-16, 25-13.
Senior outside hitter Brooke Berroyer, who had 11 kills and was strong from the service line, said she was surprised by what the Raiders brought to the court.
“They were better than I was expecting them to be — they had really good defense, their block are pretty big, but I think our defense played really well today,” she said. “Our setter, [senior Marissa Oliveri, who had 35 assists], was moving the ball around today, we had a lot of different hitters today, we were all hitting very effectively.”
Senior middle Steph Berdon went on serve streak with Berroyer to put the Bulls out front 10-4 in the opening set, forcing Pat-Med to call the first timeout of the afternoon. The break didn’t help the Raiders though, as Smithtown East surged ahead 21-11 as the visitors called for another pause.
Berroyer picked up where she left off, gaining more Bulls points from the service line until the score was 9-5. Junior outside hitter Katy Curran slammed a kill shot from high above the net before Pat-Med asked for another timeout.
The Raiders were able to keep pace from there, trailing by four points until the Bulls stepped on the gas and broke out to a 23-15 advantage.
Senior outside hitter Allie Brady also noted Patchogue-Medford’s defense despite the score.
“Their defense was amazing, it was tough to get the ball to hit the floor,” she said. “We had good communication and trust in each other and that built confidence.”
Oliveri continued to help set up plays as Smithtown East jumped out to an 8-1 advantage in the third, but pointed to her teammates, who she said lightened her load.
“I thought our passing was amazing — they were making my job easier, it easier for the hitters to get their swings on every ball,” she said. “They fought hard, and we had to step up our game and push through.”
With the help of junior right side hitter Felicity Hoffert, who finished with 10 kills, the Bulls edged ahead 19-11 before closing out the set.
Smithtown East has now won its last five games, and head coach George Alamia said he never doubted what his team is capable of, especially with many of his athletes prior experience in the postseason.
“It’s a playoff game; it’s a mentality, and we had that tonight,” he said. “We’ve been here before — a lot of these kids have been in long playoff runs — so they know that they can’t let up.”
Smithtown East is back in action Nov. 1 hosting No. 6 Ward Melville at 5 p.m.
“We’re pretty versatile with our offense — our top four hitters were right around each other 10 or 11 kills, not one person dominated our play,” Alamia said. “We’ll challenge them to get better in certain areas but our ball control is great, we pulled away with our defense in this game and that gives us a chance to win any round.”