Resilient Westhampton Beach Girls Volleyball Team Learning From Mistakes - 27 East

Resilient Westhampton Beach Girls Volleyball Team Learning From Mistakes

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Senior libero Brooke Donahue services. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Senior libero Brooke Donahue services. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Sophomore setter Emma O'Came kicks the ball back. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Sophomore setter Emma O'Came kicks the ball back. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Sophomore setter Emma O'Came serves. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Sophomore setter Emma O'Came serves. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Sophomore setter Emma O'Came. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Sophomore setter Emma O'Came. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Senior outside hitter Haley Waszkelewicz sets up the next pass.DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Senior outside hitter Haley Waszkelewicz sets up the next pass.DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Senior outside hitter Haley Waszkelewicz connects with the ball. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Senior outside hitter Haley Waszkelewicz connects with the ball. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Sophomore outside hitter Katie Burke spikes the ball over the net. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Sophomore outside hitter Katie Burke spikes the ball over the net. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Sophomore outside hitter Katie Burke serves. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Sophomore outside hitter Katie Burke serves. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Sophomore outside hitter Katie Burke and senior libero Brooke Donahue reach to return a serve. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Sophomore outside hitter Katie Burke and senior libero Brooke Donahue reach to return a serve. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Senior middle blocker and outside hitter Shannon Sweet settles the ball. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Senior middle blocker and outside hitter Shannon Sweet settles the ball. DESIRÉE KEEGAN

Desirée Keegan on Sep 20, 2023

Members of the Westhampton Beach girls volleyball team have been working on their mental toughness. That, along with some additional practice and determination, helped the Hurricanes come away with their first win Monday, a 3-0 sweep — 25-18, 25-20, 25-19 — on the road at Islip.

“Everything’s beginning to fall into place, and it couldn’t have come at a better time,” said senior middle blocker and outside hitter Shannon Sweet. “We tried some new things and made some changes, but regardless of those switches, we played with energy and confidence and I really think that made a huge difference. We have a lot of talented girls and potential on the team. We just had some kinks to work out.”

The win not only snapped an 0-3 skid to start the season, it was a bounce-back following a 3-0 defeat — 25-16, 25-17, 25-17 — at the hands of then-unbeaten Half Hollow Hills West (3-1) on Thursday, September 14.

“I think Half Hollow Hills was great competition for us,” senior libero Brooke Donahue said. “During the game, our main focus was to keep a positive mindset, and I feel like for the most part we did a good job with that. I feel like now that we know how they play, we will be ready to see them in playoffs.”

Donahue said prior to that contest, she and the girls told each other to choose a person on the court they thought could help pick them up after making a mistake. It’s part of what helped the Hurricanes (1-3), down 16-7 in the first set, go on a 7-2 run to make it a four-point game. Westhampton Beach did it again in the third set, down 9-5, to tie it at 10-10.

“We definitely have flashes,” head coach Eric Ferrante said. “We had runs where our serve was really good and our serve receive was supporting us. Defensively, we were moving under the ball and we have a couple of hitters that can put the ball away. It’s just the idea of them knowing that they can do that all the time. It’s about stability and consistency.”

“We all know our potential and I think that’s why we’re all so nervous to mess up. Plus, it’s hard to mess up in front of a crowd and still hold that positive mindset to then be ready for the next play,” Donahue added. “But something just as simple as eye contact is really helpful to get us out of a state of mind that we were in. We definitely had to make adjustments with the state of aggression that we had during the game, but I feel like the closer we got to the end of the game, the more that aggression grew.”

Senior middle blocker and right side Charlotte Dermody said that competitiveness is crucial.

“We will definitely be focusing on keeping our chins up and continuing to fight for every point despite the rocky start,” she said. “I have a ton of hope and confidence for the future as we all get closer as a team and used to playing with each other at a competitive level.”

Ferrante said opening the season with the toughest part of their schedule can do a lot of different things for his Hurricanes, but hopes it will only make his girls stronger.

“When you’re facing that much difficulty in the beginning of the season, it can be discouraging. But it’s about pushing past those errors. You make the adjustments. And we’re an adaptable team. We get to practice and we get our work done,” the coach said, adding that his athletes should already have that belief in themselves after taking a set from Sayville — 25-23, 8-25, 21-25, 16,25 — in the opening match of the season. “We know that’s one of the toughest teams we’ll see. We know we can hang out with the best and compete with the best. That’s the adversity you face when you’re young. You need to figure out the system, and then find the belief in that system. But they’re putting their nose to the grindstone.”

Dermody said what aids the Hurricanes is the bond the girls already have, even with newcomers like sophomores Emma O’Came, a setter; Katie Burke, an outside hitter; and Jasmine Taylor, a middle blocker.

“They really bring a new light and energy to the team — hustling for every ball,” the senior said. “We are a very close team friendship-wise, so once we apply that to the game it will go great. We have a lot of time to improve, and now we know what we are capable of if we work hard enough.”

Burke reiterated the positive energy can be contagious, and hopes it continues when the Hurricanes host Kings Park (2-1) on Friday, September 22, at 4 p.m.

“I think we all really help each other when we would get in our heads,” she said. “We were really positive, and my teammates are really helpful and super supportive. We all really have come together and bonded so quick. The captains do a great job at keeping the team’s spirit a positive one, and I always know I can go to my coaches for advice or help.”

Being a leader is something Donahue doesn’t take lightly.

“There’s always been someone that I could look up to for advice, and now I feel like I’ve come full circle, because that person is me,” she said. “It’s definitely challenging readjusting to a new team and figuring out our strengths and weaknesses, but everyone has stepped up and plays a major part in this new team. This season is very special to me, and I am extremely excited to see how far we go.”

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