If anyone told Kerri Rehnback back in September her swansong as Long Beach girls’ volleyball coach would include Nassau County and Long Island titles and end on the state championship stage, she would’ve “signed up in a heartbeat.”
So while bittersweet, last Sunday’s defeat to Webster Schroeder in the state Class AA final in Glens Falls was a little easier to absorb given all the Marines accomplished in 2023, starting with a sweep of top-seeded Mepham for the county crown.
“We’ve had an underdog mentality since the county semifinals,” Rehnback said. “We have absolutely zero regrets. We had our ups and downs but the girls kept the faith.”
Rehnback announced this would be her last of 17 seasons leading the program on the bus ride home following Long Beach’s loss at Mepham in the regular-season finale.
“We didn’t play well that night and I just felt it was the right time to get it off my chest and let the girls know,” she said. “Some of them saw it coming. They wanted to go as far as we could and they took me on a great ride.”
Falling twice to Mepham during the regular season fueled the fire Long Beach brought to the Nassau Class AA final Nov. 1. And everyone Rehnback relied on delivered in a big way, led by seniors Franki Kelleher, Zoe Moller and Amy Littman, and juniors Ivanka Priymak, Hayley Lipinski and Franky DeCicco.
Kelleher and Priymak had 12 kills apiece, Lipinski dished out 27 assists, Moller added 15 digs and Littman led the way from the service line as No. 2 Long Beach turned the tide on the Pirates, rolling to a 25-16, 25-18, 25-20 victory for its first county title since 2018.
Mepham had taken 6 of 9 sets against Long Beach during the regular season. “Everyone did their jobs perfectly tonight and it turned out the way we wanted,” Priymak said after the win. “We trusted each other every point. We worked really hard to prepare for what they do and it paid off.”
The Marines, who defeated Carey and defending state champion Calhoun to reach the county finals, outlasted Hauppauge in four sets (25-15, 25-22, 17-25, 25-21) in the Long Island Class AA championship three days later. Trailing 19-15 in the fourth set, Long Beach scored 10 of the last 12 points to seal the deal.
“We knew how strong Hauppauge was but after how well we played in the first set, I thought we could pull it off,” Rehnback said. “They had momentum in the third set and most of the fourth, but our girls had more fight in them.”
In last Saturday’s state semifinal, Rehnback said the Marines rode their emotional high and swept West Genessee, 25-22, 28-26, 29-27. Kelleher had 18 kills and Lipinski 29 assists.
“I always believed we had a legitimate shot to be county champs,” said Rehnback, who led the program to a state crown in 2018 and racked up 173 career wins. “To win that and take it two steps beyond was just incredible.”