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Sunday, November 23, 2014
Wantagh outlasts South Side
Jeff Wilson/Herald
South Side's Sydney Gabriel, No. 8, soared above the net for a block during last Friday's hard-fought five-set loss at Wantagh.

The girls’ gym at Wantagh High School was buzzing last Friday afternoon when the Lady Warriors and defending Nassau Class A champion South Side renewed their rivalry on the volleyball court.

“You could feel the tension as soon as they walked through the door,” Wantagh senior middle hitter Haley Joyce said. “We were looking forward to this match since the season started. It felt like the playoffs. Even warm-ups were intense.”

The hosts prevailed in a back-and-forth Conference I-A showdown that lived up to all the hype, taking a five-set marathon 19-25, 25-15, 25-23, 22-25, 25-11 behind Joyce’s 14 kills and eight apiece from Chelsea Greenberg and Megan Pennino. Wantagh, which won three straight county titles from 2009-11 before last year’s runner-up finish, improved to 7-0. The Lady Cyclones, who were led by Kayla Principato’s 18 kills and Ashley DeTullio’s 12, slipped to 5-2.

“I’ve inherited a great team with chemistry and depth,” Wantagh coach Dan O’Shea said. “We knew this would be a good test, and South Side played tough. We got away from our game a little bit, but we closed it out strong.”

It was the second straight defeat for the young Lady Cyclones, who lost to Long Beach earlier in the week, but coach Cheryl Scalice was pleased with the bounce-back performance. “The Wantagh-South Side rivalry goes back many years,” she said. “I told the girls on the way here this is the kind of volleyball you look forward to playing. They didn’t come out nervous or scared. They played well, just the last game got away.”

The first set was tied when DeTullio, a junior, served five straight points to give the visitors a 13-8 edge they wouldn’t relinquish. Wantagh got within 16-14 after senior Gabi DiMeglio’s service turn brought three points, but Principato and Casey Petrone, South Side’s only seniors, produced some clutch serves and kills to secure the opening set.

The second set was also tied 8-8 until the Lady Warriors slowly pulled away. The defense of senior libero Alyssa Kelly, who was tremendous throughout the match, and serving of DiMeglio and Pennino were the keys.

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