The North Shore High School women’s varsity volleyball team is celebrating a near perfect season after clinching its Conference Championship last month. The team went undefeated in the regular season, qualifying for county playoffs as well as the coveted county championship title.
“The word “undefeated” didn’t come out of anyone’s mouth until the last game was over,” said Coach Tracy Iacovelli. “No one talked about it, which was kind of interesting, but I’m sure it was in the back of everyone’s mind.”
After fending off Bellmore-JFK in the first round of the playoffs, the 14-player squad took on seed no. 1 South Side in the Nassau A quarter finals on Oct. 31. And though the Vikings fell to the Cyclones in four sets (3-1 in favor of Rockville Centre), team captains Milagros Buschfrers and Katie Ryan were still ecstatic about the unprecedented achievement.
“This is the first time since I’ve been on the team that we’ve been undefeated and conference champs,” said Buschfrers, a senior who, ahead of the curve, joined the team when she was in eighth grade. “It was nerve-racking in the beginning, especially that first game that we almost lost to Plainedge,” — a five set match — “But after winning that we really set the bar for the rest of the season.”
“I think we rose to the occasion,” said Ryan, a senior from Glen Head. “We broke 10 [points] every set, so that was an accomplishment. It showed us that we could beat them, that we were capable and that we were still strong as a team no matter what.”
Iacovelli has been with the program for 25 years, and while she said past teams have achieved league championships, this is the first time women’s varsity volleyball has finished a season undefeated.
She said she was floored by the team’s performance this year. “In the beginning of the season I didn’t know how things would turn out for us,” Iacovelli said, explaining that the squad graduated five seniors, including two starting players. But the void was quickly filled by three rising seniors, Lauren Lehane, Sabrina Romano and Julia Vaccaro. “Without any one of them, I’m confident we would not have had the season that we had.”
The captains agreed that there were “big shoes to fill” at the start of the year but were confident in the abilities of their starting seniors as well as the underclassmen. “It was really incredible,” Buschfrers said of the season, “Especially with all the younger talent. I wasn’t expecting them to be as good as they were.”
Both Buschfrers and Iacovelli said much of the team’s success was due in part to the chemistry the players had on and off the court. “Those seniors have passed on to the underclassmen a winning attitude, a will to win and ability to win,” Iacovelli said, adding that she has seen one of the seniors tutoring younger teammates. “They really do have a camaraderie beyond the volleyball court.”
Another vital aspect of the team’s continued success this season was, simply, fun. “There was never a dull moment,” Ryan said, recalling the matches where she would cheer on her teammates from the sidelines and get that same momentum back whenever she was up to net.
Though they acknowledge their high school careers have come to an end, the captains said they believed they’ve left a legacy of teamwork for their fellow Vikings to follow. “The idea of being a team that works together to make each other better is something they’re gonna keep,” said Buschfrers.