The last time Long Beach girls’ volleyball coach Kerri Rehnback returned all her starters the Marines captured a state title in 2018 and she is hoping a similar story plays out in 2023.
Rehnback brought back a veteran-laden senior starting lineup this fall looking to build off of last year’s run to the county semifinals. Long Beach will be well tested leading up to the upcoming playoffs next month competing in Conference I against the seven top programs in Nassau County.
“I knew going into it that this regular season was going to be a battle,” Rehnback said. “But I prefer to play these teams because you really get to see what the best is out there and then when you break off for the playoffs you hope that all that experience pays off.”
Long Beach is led by senior Franki Kelleher, a reigning All-County player who is one of the Marines’ biggest scoring threats as an outside and middle hitter. Kelleher recorded 16 kills in a five-set win against Syosset in the season opener on Sept. 11.
Senior outside hitter Amy Littman also brings leadership on and off the floor after receiving all-county accolades as a junior. She registered 30 assists and 16 digs in the Syosset win.
Kelleher and Littman are tri-captains with senior libero Zoe Moller, who was all county honorable mention last year. Her defensive skills were evident in the Syosset match with 24 digs.
“They each have their own special ability to connect with their teammates in their unique way,” said Rehnback of her three captains. “They provide the team with the constant balance it needs to be successful.”
Junior Hayley Lipinski, who received All-County honors as a sophomore, is another key part of the offense who tallied 30 assists in the Syosset victory. Ivanka Priymak, a junior outside hitter, also adds experience as a returning starter.
Rehnback boasts a deep bench that features senior defensive specialists Hailey Cardiello and Lindsay Roth, who both saw plenty of court time during the 2022 season. Sophomore Jorjia Domingo has emerged as the team’s top passer on the right side of the net and junior Franky DeCicco has been a key force in the middle.
“We have a lot of depth this year,” Rehnback said.
After the Syosset triumph, the Marines dropped matches in straight sets to Wantagh, Massapequa and South Side. The only team in their league that Long Beach will compete with in the upcoming Class AA playoffs.
After Sept. 27 battle with Manhasset, the Marines travel to Mineola Friday before returning home to face Mepham on Tuesday at 6:45 p.m. in a possible county finals preview. Long Beach will then visit Syosset for a rematch on Oct. 6 and play Wantagh at home on Oct. 11 at 5 p.m.
“We’re looking forward to the second half of our season,” Rehnback said. “We’re hoping to be peaking at the right time and that after playing all these teams the game kind of slows down for us a bit during the playoffs.”