If not for a shortened spring season, Valley Stream North girls’ volleyball would be well on its way to posting a fifth consecutive double-digit win campaign.
The Spartans have worked their way up the Nassau County ladder since a breakthrough 2017 season and are looking to secure their second conference title in five seasons. They rebounded from their only defeat so far this fall with a sweep of Carle Place on Oct. 6 to improve to 8-1 in Conference A/C3.
“We’ve had a nice run and for the past three years it’s been us and Mepham battling for the conference,” North coach Mary Parisi said. “They’ve been our main rival.”
Mepham has won back-to-back conference crowns, but the Spartans took a big step to change the narrative by sweeping the Pirates in the opener at home. The teams meet again this week and Parisi is expecting a hard-fought match. “It’s a big one and we have to go to their gym now,” she said. “It’ll be a month since we played and both teams have improved.”
The Spartans, who between 2017 and 2019 won 36 of 40 conference matches, returned a good portion of the roster they fielded in the spring when they went 7-3. Parisi described fifth-year varsity setter/hitter Haley Nelson as the program’s catalyst during the successful stretch. Nelson earned All-County honors as a junior and leads the team in assists with close to 100 while contributing her share of kills and digs.
“Haley is a phenomenal all-around player,” Parisi said. “She knows the game so well and does everything so well. She’s really going to be missed after this season.”
While Nelson and senior Karen Ye (60 assists) steer the offense, senior libero Alessandra Llubit sets the defensive tone. “She keeps a lot of points alive and directs traffic in the back row,” Parisi said of Llubit, who is approaching 150 digs for the season after being named Honorable Mention All-County. “She moves fast, makes great passes and has a reliable jump-serve,” she added.
Sophomore Alyanna Nadal got her feet wet at the varsity level thanks to a spring call-up from JV and has developed into a strong defensive specialist, though Parisi sees her as a future all-court contributor. Junior Gianna Sinner provides depth for the defense.
When it comes to delivering points, junior outside hitter Kayla Santo is the team’s go-to, Parisi noted. Santo leads the team in kills, averaging double figures per match, and also aces. “She just pounds the ball and is rarely blocked,” Parisi said. Junior Gabrielle Dicostanzo is the other starting outside hitter and someone counted on to provide points from the service line.
Junior Isabella Matura ranks among the county’s leader in blocks and is aggressive at the net along with sophomore Nattaly Lindo. Sophomore right-side hitter Isabella Feldman is also a presence in the front row along with senior Madelyn Dusel.