It wasn’t pretty at times, but Long Beach managed to complete a season sweep of defending Nassau Class A boys’ volleyball champion Planview-JFK on Tuesday evening with a 15-12 victory in the fifth and deciding set of a back-and-forth match.
Senior outside hitters Sammy Gibson (14 kills, 11 digs) and Chris Scandole (7 kills, 15 digs), along with senior setter Jared Weissberg (37 assists) led the Marines to their eighth consecutive win in Conference A1 following a season-opening defeat. Plainview took the first and third sets, 25-14 and 25-17, respectively, but visiting Long Beach answered with a 25-15 win in the second set and 25-18 in the fourth.
“Plainview has been one of our biggest rivals for a long time and we beat them in five earlier in the season at home,” Weissberg said. “We didn’t come out as strong as we wanted and we struggled to play within our system in the first and third sets. But winning in five is a lot better than losing in five.”
Juniors Ben Naouai (8 kills, 3 blocks) and Jack Palmer (5, 3) contributed some key points for the Marines, who all but guaranteed themselves one of the top two seeds for the Class A playoffs.
“We returned most of last year’s team and it’s the most kids we’ve had back who played club volleyball over the summer,” Long Beach coach Bill Gibson said. “They’ve all improved. We don’t have any size, but we make up for it with ball control, athleticism, speed and aggressiveness.”
The Marines jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the fifth set, increased it to 10-4, and held off the Hawks after the margin was cut to 12-10. Two of the last three points were unforced errors by Plainview.
“To get the top seed, we need to win out and Plainview needs to beat Massapequa,” Gibson noted. “There’s still a long way to go.”
The coach said Long Beach’s offense, which employs Weissberg as its lone setter, is working to become more balanced down the stretch. The majority of its attack comes from its All-County tandem of Gibson, the coach’s son, and Scandole. Both are also captains.
“Sammy’s been playing volleyball his whole life and he’s got one of the fastest arm swings on Long Island,” the coach said. Gibson has 158 kills and 28 aces. Scandole (101 kills, 123 digs) has thrived in his new role after serving as the libero last season.
Weissberg is a returning starter and getting a lot of reps in practice as the full-time setter. “His footwork is solid and he benefits from our strong serve-receive,” Gibson said. Junior Eddie Roesch is the new libero and one of the main reasons the Marines can run a fast offense, the coach explained. Senior Jahan Khan provides a defensive boost, while senior Matt Mascolo contributes to the effort in the middle.
One of Roesch’s and Mascolo’s biggest performance came Sept. 28 when they helped Long Beach avenge its only loss with a four-set win over Massapequa. Roesch had 18 digs and Mascolo registered 7 blocks. Gibson added 15 kills and 14 digs.