If anyone was concerned about the Long Beach girls undergoing a championship hangover in 2018, the team’s performance over the first half of the volleyball season has allayed those fears. The play of the defending Nassau County Class AA champions has been stellar, and the Lady Marines are clearly the team that all others are looking up at.
After a 25-14, 25-8, 25-15 sweep of host East Meadow last Friday afternoon, the Lady Marines improved their record to 7-0. Long Beach has not dropped a single set in any of its seven matches.
Coach Kerri Rehnback is pleased with the team’s progress, thus far. “At this point, we’re on the right track,” Rehnback said. “I like where we’re at as a team through this part of the schedule. The veteran players have incredible mental toughness. They never let up, and it rubs off on the underclassmen. We’ve set bigger goals for ourselves, and we never lose sight of where we want to get.”
To keep her team battle-tested, Rehnback entered it in tournaments that comprise many of the elite teams from Suffolk County. Last Saturday, Long Beach was the last team standing at the Lindenhurst Tournament.
The Lady Marines, who knocked off Smithtown West in a championship match that went the distance, faced St. Anthony, Bayport-Blue Point, and defending Class AA state champion Connetquot.
Senior outside hitter Emma McGovern has been an absolute beast. McGovern, who had 21 kills in a rout of Oceanside, mixes in strong court sense with a tremendous vertical jump and powerful swing.
Grace Rosenberg, a first-team All-Long Island honoree as a junior, is arguably the best setter on the Island. In addition to getting to balls that few are able to keep in play, Rosenberg has a serve arsenal that’s off the charts.
Senior libero Kathleen Verastegui is solid in all aspects of the game. Verastegui rarely leaves the court. McGovern, Rosenberg, and Verastegui serve as team captains.
The team got a big boost when Marlené Kramer returned after missing nearly two full seasons with injuries. The senior middle hitter was outstanding in the win over Smithtown West. Fellow senior Lexie Correia forms an excellent tandem with Verastegui in the middle for Long Beach.
Sophomore twins Gwen and Tori Price are a big part of the present and future of Long Beach volleyball. Rehnback was impressed with Tori’s performance against Smithtown West, and was equally complimentary of Gwen’s contributions in a sweep of perennial-power Massapequa.
Junior Maggie Swegler is a versatile player who is just getting better and better. The Marines have a pair of underclassmen getting it done at defensive specialist in freshman Anna Moller and sophomore Julia Meyers.
“We need to continue to work on fine tuning our game and stick to the game plan,” Rehnback said. “We like to serve aggressively, and with that comes risk. We just get out on the court and work on improving every day.”
Long Beach hosts Baldwin on Wednesday, Oct. 10 at 4:30 p.m.