After reaching the New York State Championships for the first time in program history the year before, the Pierson/Bridgehampton girls volleyball team followed up last year with a successful regular season run in which it went 10-2 in league play and easily qualified for the Suffolk County Class C postseason.
But the playoff run that the Lady Whalers had enjoyed the year before was not to be matched again. They lost a tight, five-set county championship to Mattituck, a program new to Class C after being in Class B for years, and were forced to say goodbye to a trio of solid seniors in Celia Barranco, Aziza El and Hannah Tuma.
Even with those losses, and Mattituck returning as the ‘C’ champs, Pierson head coach Donna Fischer has high hopes for this season.
“We are looking to make it back to Glens Falls,” site of the state championships, she said. “The girls have put in the work in the offseason and are ready to play. Kids are fighting for open spots and I am excited to see how it all plays out.”
Fischer still has a good core of players to work with, starting with senior captains Samantha Cox, a strong outside hitter, and Olivia Cassone, who brings years of experience to the court now as the team’s libero. Junior middle blocker Gylia Dryden, who was sorely missed in the playoff loss to Mattituck due to a sprained ankle she suffered days before the match, will continue to be a key piece to the team this season, as will sophomore setter Sofia Mancino, who was an All-County Tournament Team selection last year. Junior outside hitter Lilith Baskek-Ochoa and sophomore middle blocker Angela Gardella are also returning this season.
A few changes were made to League VIII this season. Center Moriches, an up-and-coming team that went 8-4 last season in league play, has moved down to League VII, leaving a spot open that was filled by Ross. Babylon, Port Jefferson, Southold/Greenport and the league’s lone Class D school Shelter Island all compete in League VIII as well, but Mattituck remains the top team in the league and Fischer is expecting another battle with the Lady Tuckers all year long.
“We are going to work hard and do whatever it takes to be the best that we can be,” she said.
Pierson opens the season at Greenport on Wednesday, September 4, at 4:30 p.m. Its first home match of the season is a non-league against Southampton two days later on September 6 at 4:30 p.m.