In 2016, the East Rockaway volleyball program made significant progress. The Lady Rocks won county and Long Island titles, and the season didn’t end until the Lady Rocks were eliminated from a four-team pool that battled for the Class C state championship.
The departure of eight seniors in June left the team with a lot of question marks, and the results have been up and down. After Island Trees knocked off the host Lady Rocks in five sets (25-13, 21-25, 17-25, 25-20, 25-19), the team’s record fell to 4-5 in Conference BC-1.
Cathryn Kramer had 15 kills and10 blocks to lead the Lady Bulldogs comeback. The match marked the second time this season Island Trees (7-2) beat East Rockaway in five sets.
East Rockaway coach Ksenia Brito figured it would take time for her team to get where she’d like it to be. “We had very few returning starters, so we knew that it would take some time to build the chemistry,” Brito said. “We’re tapping into everyone’s strengths and weaknesses, and trying to piece things together. We’ve made some progress, but we’re still very inconsistent. We still have plenty of season left to get it right before the playoffs.”
A few days prior to the Island Trees match, the Lady Rocks traveled a couple miles north to take on a spirited Malverne team. The Mules put up a great fight, but the orange-and-black won the battle for Ocean Avenue bragging rights in four sets.
Junior middle Brooke DeGiulio had nine kills, six blocks and five aces, and Joanna Acampora had 27 assists and six aces to lead the way. The teams split the first two sets, but the Lady Rocks eked out the third 26-24, before taking the final set 25-17. Junior Jamie Keegan added nine kills.
After dropping their first two matches of the season, East Rockaway went on a three-match winning streak culminating with a dramatic five-set victory over Carle Place. Melissa Loyer had 25 kills and Acampora had a career-high 47 assists. Junior Catherine McClure closed out the final set with five straight service aces.
Loyer and Acampora, the team’s only two seniors, have made significant contributions. “Melissa has been consistently the team’s go-to player, and Joanna has done a nice job at controlling play for us,” Brito said. “They know what is expected of them. Joanna and Melissa have terrific rapport on the court.”
Brito appreciates the versatility she gets from DeGiulio and McClure. Team needs have led to both playing multiple positions depending upon the situation, and both have shown the willingness to try new approaches. Keegan has made considerable improvements to her hitting and serving. Junior libero Jaclyn Ragusa had 13 digs in a sweep of Oyster Bay.
“We are making progress, we just need to stay focused and be more consistent,” Brito said. “We want to be as prepared as possible for the playoffs. We’re going to get better.”
The Lady Rocks welcome in West Hempstead on Thursday, Oct. 24 at 4:30 p.m.