Lady Whalers Win Volleyball Semifinal in Dramatic Fashion

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Pierson's Sophie Borzilleri and Samamtha Cox leap to defend at the net in the Lady Whalers' win over Mercy on Wednesday.

Pierson's Sophie Borzilleri and Samamtha Cox leap to defend at the net in the Lady Whalers' win over Mercy on Wednesday.
Pierson’s Sophie Borzilleri and Samamtha Cox leap to defend at the net in the Lady Whalers’ win over Mercy on Wednesday.

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.

Nia Dawson leaps for a block against Mercy on Wednesday.
Nia Dawson leaps for a block against Mercy on Wednesday.

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.”

Pierson's Samantha Cox flies for a dig during the Lady Whalers' Suffolk County Class C Semifinal game against the Mercy Lady Monarchs at Pierson High School on Wednesday, 11/2/16
Pierson’s Samantha Cox makes a dig during the Lady Whalers’ Suffolk County Class C Semifinal game against the Mercy Lady Monarchs.
Pierson's Maizy Guyer runs to intercept during the Lady Whalers' Suffolk County Class C Semifinal game against the Mercy Lady Monarchs at Pierson High School on Wednesday, 11/2/16
Maizy Guyer made numerous saves to preserve rallies on Wednesday. 
A rowdy Pierson cheering section was eventually ordered to sit down during the Lady Whalers' Suffolk County Class C Semifinal game against the Mercy Lady Monarchs at Pierson High School on Wednesday, 11/2/16
A rowdy Pierson student section celebrates their team’s success on Wednesday. 

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