East Rockaway earns Three-Peat, drops LIC


East Rockaway’s girls’ volleyball team had a magical season come to an end on Nov. 9 when it fell in the Long Island Class C championship to Port Jefferson in three sets 17-25, 23-25, 19-25.

The sweep didn’t indicate the way the match was played as the Rocks were in it for essentially the entire night. The referees called a tight match and some bounces just did not go in East Rockaway’s favor. It was an absolute roller coaster of a match that just unfortunately didn’t turn out the way the Rocks hoped.

The season was still a huge success, however. East Rockaway was able to snag its third consecutive Nassau Class C championship Nov. 6 with a sweep of Carle Place.

“This year Nassau County ranked all the schools and the top 24 were considered to be playing in competitive conferences while the rest kind of just played a straight schedule,” Rocks coach Ksenia Brito said. “We were originally told no small school would be up with those top ranked schools, but we made it.”

East Rockaway, which won 10 matches in 2023, was led by Nicole Zugnoni, Grace Buffetti, Sofia Ramirez and libero Stephanie Lynch. Zugnoni and Buffetti would dominate in the front of the net, Ramirez would set them up and Lynch would clean up anything that the opposing team would send her way.

Zugnoni was in the top 20 in Nassau County in kills with 151 and seventh with 52 blocks. Lynch was second in digs with 332 while Ramirez was top 25 in assists with 220.

“All these girls were so important to us all year but I would have to point out that Stephanie Lynch has been a cornerstone on the team all season,” Brito said. “She has some of the highest amount of digs in the county and she's really put her stamp on East Rockaway volleyball.”

The Rocks were emotional after the loss to Port Jefferson, but they had plenty of reasons to keep their heads high.

“These girls, they should be so proud of themselves. Nobody thought we would we would get as far as the Long Island title, nobody blinked an eye at us,” Brito said. “They would just come out and win. We played four and five sets in so many matches and I'm just super proud of how they played. They played big girl competitive, proud volleyball all season.”

A handful of girls from the roster will be graduating in June but a few key members will be returning in 2024 to go for the fourth Nassau County title in a row.

“All season we've been training on earning our points and focusing on what's happening here on our side of the court,” Brito said. “There are times when you can control stuff and you can't. And I just kept trying to remind the girls that they just need to control what they can. I think they kept their composure very well all season and especially in this big battle against Port Jefferson.”