A quick glance at the Pierson/Bridgehampton girls volleyball team and its standing in League VIII reveals one truly surprising result: a loss on September 23 at Babylon.
But the result becomes much more understandable when the facts about who was out of the lineup are revealed. Senior outside hitter Sam Cox was home with laryngitis, while senior libero Olivia Cassone missed the final two games after hitting her head.
And while the result meant little in terms of a league title — defending champion Mattituck beat Pierson twice and is set to sew that up with an unbeaten record — it set the stage for Monday night’s rematch at Pierson High School, where the Lady Whalers’ senior fire power was back on full display against Babylon.
Cassone had eight digs, four assists and six aces and Cox dominated at the net all night to finish with 17 kills as Pierson’s senior leaders led the Lady Whalers to an easy 3-0 (25-13, 25-9, 25-7) victory over the visiting Lady Panthers.
Pierson (10-3), which also won its home tournament over the weekend, closed out the regular season at Shelter Island on Wednesday night after press time and will now turn its attention to the Suffolk County Class C playoffs and an out bracket game against Greenport at home on Wednesday, October 30, at 4 p.m. The winner will advance to the county championship game, which will be played this year at Greenport High School, on Wednesday, November 6, to face top-seeded Mattituck, the defending Long Island champion.
“We feel ready,” Cassone said following Monday night’s game, which was played in front of a raucous home crowd. “We’re strong, we’re a good team, and we just have to work together. We have all worked so hard for this.”
Pierson head coach Donna Fisher said the loss to Babylon last month served as a bit of a wake up call for her team, which despite losing 3-0 at Mattituck on October 16, believes the third time will be a charm.
“We need to be more strategic and see the court on the other side,” Cox said after taking photos with family and friends on Monday. “We have to be more aggressive, swing harder and be as united as we can be.”
Both Cox and Cassone started playing volleyball in middle school, and have been key contributors to the emergence of Pierson volleyball as a force among Class C competition. They have also helped bring along the next generation of talent, led by junior Gylia Dryden and sophomore Sofia Mancino, who will return next season surrounded by a growing collection of talent.
“I’ve been so lucky to have these amazing girls, we’re like a family,” said Cox, who has plans to continue playing competitively in college next year. “I feel really supported and welcome and hopefully I’m giving that same vibe to the younger kids.”
Speaking on the microphone after the game on Monday, Pierson Athletic Director Eric Bramoff joked that the school was “planning to charter a ferry to Greenport” while seriously encouraging the crowd to make the trek to the North Fork on November 6 should the Whalers advance.
“We thrive when we have a larger crowd,” Cox said. “It helps when people are cheering you on. When you feel that energy, it really pushes you to succeed.”