By Gavin Menu; photography by Michael Heller
The Pierson/Bridgehampton girls volleyball team was cruising toward an apparent victory — and an easy one at that — in a Suffolk County Class C semifinal against Mercy on Wednesday. After winning the first two games, 25-16 and 25-11, everything seemed under control for the county’s top-seeded team from Class C.
And while the wheels never officially fell off for the Lady Whalers, a raucous home crowd at Pierson High School was treated to a post-Halloween scare as the Lady Monarchs won games three and four, 25-20 and 25-16, and nearly charged back from 10 points down in the decisive fifth game. Pierson ultimately held on to win the fifth game, 25-19, and advanced to the Class C championship game this Monday at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood.
Pierson will face either Stony Brook or Port Jefferson, who faced off in Wednesday’s other Class C semifinal, at 6:30 p.m. on Monday.
“We mesh so well on this team,” said Nia Dawson, a senior at Bridgehampton who had 24 serves, three kills and seven huge blocks on Wednesday. “The connection we have is outstanding and I’m just so glad I was able to be part of this team.”
Pierson senior Mackenzie Benbeneck, who also had 24 serves to go with 11 kills, stepped to the service line lane in the fifth game with the Lady Whalers needing just two points to secure the win. She delivered, as she has for much of the season, and a wild celebration erupted as Pierson’s spirited student section poured onto the court.
“It was very nerve-wracking but I knew we could do it,” said Benbeneck, the team’s outside hitter. “There was no doubt we could pull through.”