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Sep 4, 2017 9:53 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Fall Volleyball Preview: Lady Canes Look To Break Through; Boys Division II Is Wide Open This Season

Emma Marino is returning to her setter position this season for Westhampton Beach. DREW BUDD
Sep 4, 2017 12:49 PM

Volleyball players across the East End are getting set to take to the hardwood once again, with matches beginning this week.

The Pierson/Bridgehampton and Westhampton Beach girls volleyball teams are returning from strong seasons last year, while East Hampton and Hampton Bays look to improve their records from last season. On the boys side, East Hampton and Westhampton Beach will play in a wide-open division now that powerhouse and returning state champion Eastport South Manor has been bumped up to the large school classification.

Westhampton Beach

Is this the year the Lady Hurricanes finally break through with a county title?

That is the big question this season, as Westhampton Beach has reached the Suffolk County Class A Championships the past three seasons only to fall to Kings Park each time. In fact, the Lady Canes, the defending League VI champs, are 50-5 over that same time frame, with four of those losses coming to Kings Park.

Westhampton Beach certainly lost quite a bit to graduation after last year’s county final loss in hitters Camryn Bancroft and Sarena Choi, but head coach Lenny Zaloga is confident in the group he has returning. It’s led by three seniors—Shannon Hewlett, Emma Marino and Smiltene Jankunaite—along with rising sophomore Isabelle Smith, the two-time league Defensive Player of the Year. Hewlett and Jankunaite will be key hitters for the Lady Canes, while Marino will continue in her setter role. Cortina Green is a newcomer who will start at outside hitter with Shannon Hewlett.

Westhampton Beach will defend its league title this season against Amityville, East Hampton, Islip, Miller Place, Mount Sinai, Sayville and Shoreham/Wading River, which the Lady Canes played in their season opener on Thursday, August 31.

The Westhampton Beach boys volleyball team went 5-9 last season but has most of its team returning and, with hard work and more experience, head coach Jackie Reed said that the goal this season is to make the playoffs. There are eight seniors, three juniors and a sophomore that make up this year’s squad, highlighted by four returning starters—Ronnie Klima, Luke Lampasona, John Sganga and Ryan Haber. Danny Tocco, Robert Kelly, Aidan Sattler and Matt Lambert are all new to the team but will provide depth. Tocco just recently placed fifth at the New York State Tennis Championships this past spring. Kelly has come over from the golf team and Sattler and Lambert have made the jump from junior varsity. Reed said Sattler and Lambert were a solid tandem in the middle of the court last season and will improve the team in that area this season.

Westhampton Beach will continue to play a schedule against all schools across Suffolk County but is a Division II school come playoff time. As previously stated, with ESM now considered a large school, the Division II county title is up for grabs. The Canes opened the season with Bay Shore on Tuesday.

Pierson/Bridgehampton

The Lady Whalers had a banner season last year, reaching the Suffolk County Class C Championship for the first time in program history where they lost a tough match to Stony Brook.

Maizy Guyer, Nia Dawson and Mackenzie Benbenek graduated but Leigh Hatfield is returning and will be the team’s senior captain and outside hitter. Sophomore setter Samantha Cox, middle hitter Hannah Tuma and rightside hitter Sophie Borzilleri are all returning, with eighth-grade libero Sofia Mancino joining varsity for the first time.

Pierson will play in League VIII this season with fellow Class C teams Greenport/Southold, Mercy, Port Jefferson, returning county champ Stony Brook and the lone Class D school, Shelter Island. The Lady Whalers played their first match of the season on Friday at Greenport and hosted Port Jeff in their home opener on Tuesday.

East Hampton

The Lady Bonackers returned to the Class A playoffs as the eighth seed last season and needed to win their outbracket game against Shoreham/Wading River to advance. They did that but then had to face off against eventual county and Long Island champ Kings Park in the following round and lost.

Georgia Aldrich and Danielle Futerman were the only seniors to graduate this season so most of the team is returning, along with a few new added faces.

Mikela Junemann was League VI Rookie of the Year and will look to take a step forward in just her sophomore season. Seniors Maddie Smullen and Olivia Brauer also return, along with juniors Connie Chan, Ella Gurney, Elle Johnson, Madyson Neff, Nicole Realmuto and sophomores Zoe Leach and Molly Mamay. Up from junior varsity are juniors Erin Decker, Mary MacDonald and Julia Kearney.

East Hampton will continue in Class A/League VI this season against Amityville, Islip, Miller Place, Mount Sinai, Sayville, Shoreham/Wading River and returning league champion and county finalist Westhampton Beach. The Lady Bonackers played their season opener Friday at home against Miller Place.

“We are very athletic and will be exciting to watch,” head coach Kathy McGeehan said. “I would expect us to be competitive in both our league and classification this year. We are looking to improve daily as well as on our 8-6 finish from last year.”

Just like their female counterparts, the East Hampton boys volleyball team reached the postseason last year after a 7-7 record in a competitive Suffolk County. The Bonackers lost in five sets to Hauppauge in the semifinals.

After losing All-County player James Stanis to graduation, Brian Damm to other focuses, and Hunter Fromm to an injury during the spring baseball season, it was a bit of a reprieve for head coach Josh Brussell to hear that Sutton Lynch would be returning to the district after a year hiatus. The senior will look to lead the team at outside hitter. Seniors Eamon Spencer and James Kim also return along with sophomores Logan Gurney, Clark Miller and Morgan Segelken. Sophomore Andy Ngo is a setter up from JV and Brussell said he will be a key addition.

East Hampton hosted its season opener on Tuesday against West Islip.

Hampton Bays

An early season-ending injury for Katie Picataggio proved to be tough for the Lady Baymen last season as they finished with three overall wins. Picataggio had off-season surgery and will return for her senior year but at a new position—libero. Senior Olivia Lofstad will be the team’s starting outside hitter and returning senior Morgan Phillips will be the starting setter.

Hampton Bays will continue to play in Class B/League VII against Babylon, Bayport/Blue Point, Center Moriches, Elwood/John Glenn, Mattituck and Southampton. The Lady Baymen played their season opener at home on Tuesday against Center Moriches.

Information on the Southampton girls volleyball team was not provided.

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