Though East Rockaway dominated Oyster Bay twice in the regular season, the Baymen vanquished the Rocks when it counted to earn the Nassau Class C girls’ volleyball championship on Monday at LIU-Post.
Oyster Bay ultimately prevailed over defending champion East Rockaway, 16-25, 25-23, 25-21, 16-25, 25-17, to win the title for the second time in three seasons. The victory flipped the script from the previous two meetings between the teams, in which the Rocks dominated six straight sets.
“They kicked our butt twice, and both times — we talked about it — my team didn’t show up those days,” Oyster Bay head coach Jen Iles said, “which, in essence, turned out good for us, because [East Rockaway] didn’t know what was coming today. We came in ready to go, and we’ve played them enough to know where weaknesses are, and tried to exploit what we could.”
The two teams went back and forth in the final set, until the Baymen took a 12-11 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish. After Gianna Mancusi’s kill brought the Rocks to within 15-14, Oyster Bay took control, winning 10 of the final 13 points to earn the title as players and coaches came pouring off the bench to celebrate on the gym floor.
East Rockaway (10-4) mostly dominated the first set before dropping two in a row. The third set was deadlocked at 20 and ultimately won by Oyster Bay, 25-21. East Rockaway played a strong fourth set to force the decider, which included outscoring the Baymen 13-5 en route to a win after taking a 12-11 lead.
Despite that sharp fourth-set play by the Rocks, the Baymen prevailed in five, capping a back-and-forth affair.
“I think throughout the year we really worked with a battle mentality, a focus-to-win mentality, and I think we came in tonight with that,” East Rockaway coach Ksenia Brito said. “But for two weeks we’ve been saying we’re not going to underestimate Oyster Bay. We knew what to expect, but we just made way too many errors tonight against them.”
Iles lauded outside hitters Katherine Jennette and Kaitlyn Kelly for providing timely points throughout the match. Taylor Hall quarterbacks the offense as the setter, while Angelina Pavlovik and Themie Voumvorakis work the middle. Libero Kaitlyn Aasheim sparked the defense.
Oyster Bay (7-8) will return to Post on Saturday to face Mattituck in the Long Island Class C championship at noon.
“It’s so exciting, because coming in, you had it in your head, we lost to them twice,” Iles said. “We always talk about how it’s hard to beat a team three times, so that was on our side a little bit, too, but definitely they pulled it all together and made it happen.”
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