Freeport builds winning culture

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The Freeport girls’ volleyball team created a building block for future success during a turnaround 2018 season.

The Lady Red Devils rebounded from a winless 2017 campaign to go 7-7 this fall and nearly achieve a playoff berth. A 3-1 victory at Westbury on Oct. 22 sent Freeport into the off-season on a winning note and a tie for fourth place in its new conference – Nassau AA-C3.

“We had a wonderful team that gelled,” said second-year head coach Eleanore Barry, who will graduate just four seniors.  “What a difference from last year.”

Barry credits senior co-captains Jeniffer Ramos and Ashley Auringer for leading Freeport’s improvement off a 0-11 season with strong leadership on and off the court.  The duo fueled a winning mentality through leading by example with hard work and displaying a strong attitude.

“They complemented each other well,” said Barry of her two captains. “They worked very well together.”

Senior outside hitter Jada Lowe was also instrumental in the positive change of direction as the team leader in service aces. Fellow senior Naggalie Cruceta progressed throughout her final year of high school volleyball to transform herself into a capable back row defender and also fill in at libero when needed.

“I’m very proud of the seniors,” Barry said. “They all pulled their own weight.”

Barry will return the brunt of her junior starting lineup next year who will be fueled to elevate Freeport girls volleyball toward a top three league finish and a postseason appearance during their senior seasons. All four middle blockers will also be back including Kyla Jackson, Lisbeth Marine, Lauren Smythe and Emily Rodriguez Diaz along with right side hitters Darliza Rodriguez Adams and Kayla Pimental. Setters Griseli Aracena Ortiz and Kelly Flores along with libero Yulianna Frometa will also provide veteran floor experience in 2019.

“We are looking forward to next year,” Barry said. “They want to work hard and get to the playoffs.”

The Red Devils will bring back key producers that sparked some critical points throughout the 2018 season. Flores led the team in assists from the setter spot while Frometa recorded the most digs despite missing a few matches to injury.

“She really made a statement when she was on the court,” said Barry of Frometa. “It was hard to fill her shoes when she wasn’t on the court.”

Sophomore manager Leslie Enrique was also an integral part of Freeport’s success, according to Barry, by supporting the team on the bench during matches and at practices. She said the whole developed chemistry off the court through activities like pasta dinners and attending an Adelphi women’s volleyball match that paid dividends during matches.

“We really enjoyed bonding with each other,” Barry said. “It makes a big difference.”

The team building is continuing in the off-season with plans to attend a Hofstra volleyball match in November. Barry said the camaraderie will hopefully lead to even more improvement in 2019.

“With some experience under our belt hopefully we can make the playoffs,” she said.