Many new faces took to the court for the Pierson/Bridgehampton girls volleyball team on Monday, March 8, as it opened the “fall” season at home against rival Mattituck.
The new look Whalers dropped the match in three sets, 25-16, 25-14, 25-20, and head coach Donna Fischer said she expects what is essentially a brand new team to get better and better as what is an abridged version of the fall season due to the ongoing pandemic wears on.
Pierson lost its top hitter in Samantha Cox and its starting libero in Olivia Cassone to graduation in 2019, then starting setter Sofia Mancino transferred out of the district, as did Sam Grabb and Grace Brosnan, who were both rising players in the program. Bridgehampton senior Gylia Dryden is really one of the lone holdovers from the last squad to reach the state tournament.
“I have a good group, but we have to become a cohesive unit,” Fischer said. “We have to work on our ball skills and improve in some other areas, and hopefully soon.”
With the season being just over a month long, and matches practically every other day, the Whalers won’t have as much time as they normally would to really learn the game, and will have to do so on the fly. Fischer said her team had “silly errors, a lot of serving errors, ball control issues,” and lacked overall court awareness in the loss to Mattituck.
Dryden led the team with five kills, while junior Angela Gardella was 4 for 4 in kill attempts. Senior co-captain Ngelika Tobias-Narvaez had four blocks and a pair of kills, and sophomore Finn Goodale had five service aces.
Fischer likes her senior leadership in Dryden, Tobias-Narvaez and Lilith Bastek-Ochoa. Junior Grace Flanagan is also returning and takes over the starting setter role from Mancino. The rest of the team, which includes juniors Emma Ambrose, Ava Crocitto and Ayanna El, sophomores Sadie Lattanzio and Ashley Weatherwax and freshman Didi Cutter, are all new to the program. Weatherwax has an early handle as the team’s new libero, Fischer said.
“I think it was a good wake-up call,” Fischer said about the season-opening loss. “It was just what we needed. I think the girls know what we have to do now, as do I. I was up all night going over notes.”