The East Hampton girls volleyball team knew exactly what it was getting into when it reached the Suffolk County Class B Championship at Elwood/John Glenn on Saturday afternoon. To say the Lady Knights are a powerhouse is a bit of an understatement.
Glenn is a 12-time Class B county champion and the defending New York State Champion. It hasn’t lost a single set to a Suffolk County opponent this season and the Lady Knights lost only one set to Nassau County Class AA champion Massapequa in a tournament earlier this season.
While it takes a total team effort to create a longstanding winning tradition such as Glenn has, a lot of the firepower behind the Lady Knights game comes from senior Jacklyn Malusa, who East Hampton head coach Kathy McGeehan wanted to keep in check.
While the Lady Bonackers were able to contain Malusa (13 kills, three aces) on occasion, in the long run Glenn was just too much and won in three sets 25-14, 25-15, 25-15, to take home another county title.
“I think John Glenn is going to be another state champion,” McGeehan said after the match. “They just have such great basics. So my hats off to them, great job.
“Our girls worked,” she added. “I’m really proud of them.”
The Lady Bonackers actually got off to leads in all three sets. They led 3-1 in the first set, which Glenn erased with a 4-0 run. In the second set, the Lady Bonackers led 2-0 before the Lady Knights went on a 5-0 run. Then, in third set, East Hampton had maybe its biggest lead of the entire match at 7-2 before Glenn went on a 5-0 run to tie it, which forced McGeehan to take a timeout.
Out of the timeout, Malusa went to the back line to serve. She had an ace, followed by an unforced error by East Hampton, and then Malusa followed with another ace and just like that, the Lady Knights led 10-7 and eventually went on to win.
The usually poised Lady Bonackers made a number of unforced errors throughout the match, which is something a team can’t get away with going against Glenn. “Ultimately I think there are so many little games in volleyball. The serving games, the passing games,” McGeehan explained. “[Glenn] won those little games, with the serving and passing. They also won ball control.
“And we’re young,” she continued. “At times, I have four, five sophomores out on the court.”
McGeehan continued and said she thought many of her players played with some tentativeness, save for senior Melanie Mackin. “That’s where you win and lose those games, if you can just relax and play,” she said. “I’m disappointed [but] we’ve been in the finals the past four years so I’m proud of the program, especially the seniors who have been a part of that.”
Mackin and junior Raya O’Neal made program history when they took the court Saturday, becoming the first players in team history to play in three county championship games. They were both on the team that went to the state tournament in 2009 and also played in a county final loss to Bellport in 2010.
Mackin was arguably East Hampton’s best player on the court against Glenn. She finished with 13 kills, 12 digs, and nine service receptions. O’Neal played well too, finishing with 14 assists and four kills.
Mackin will be graduating in June, though, along with Maria Montoya and Charlotte Wiltshire. With most of her players returning, McGeehan thinks her team’s future is bright, but is curious as to which class her team will fall in next season, as it has gone back and forth between Class A and B the past few seasons. As for Glenn, its reign in Class B could last a while.
“I think John Glenn has a lot of juniors but you just never want to face them because it doesn’t really matter,” McGeehan said. “Every year they come back with a strong group.”