Round one goes to Mattituck.
In what is expected to be the first of three matchups — the final one being the Suffolk County Class C Championships — Mattituck defeated host Pierson/Bridgehampton girls volleyball, 3-2, on Friday. The victory gives Mattituck, the reigning Class C Long Island Champion, the early leg up on the League VIII title, but, the Lady Whalers (3-1 League VIII, 5-1 overall) and Lady Tuckers face each other one more time in the regular season on October 16 in Mattituck, leaving the Lady Whalers (3-1 League VIII, 5-1 overall) a chance to at least share the league title with the Lady Tuckers (5-0 League VIII, 6-0 overall).
A few players said after the hard-fought loss that they were already looking forward to that match.
“I want it to be to tomorrow. I’m ready,” said Pierson senior Sam Cox, who had a match-high 28 kills. “We just have to work on things in practice. As always, fix the little mistakes. I’m really, really excited to play them again.
“I think the mindset is to stay strong and put our all in it,” Pierson sophomore Sofia Mancino added. “When we play them next, we need to keep our composure, stay strong and build each other up.”
After dropping the first game, 28-26, to Mattituck, Pierson came right back and won the next two games, 25-17, 25-19, and looked well on its way to a 3-1 victory. But Mattituck wouldn’t go down without a good fight and forced a fifth and final game by winning the fourth frame, 25-19.
The two rivals exchanged points throughout the start of the final game, but just before the two teams switched sides midway through, Mattituck started what was eventually a 10-1 run to take a 19-12 lead. Pierson went on a late rally, but it wasn’t enough, and the Lady Tuckers went on to win, 25-18, to take the match.
Pierson head coach Donna Fischer would have liked to have seen her team stay a little bit more composed during Mattituck’s run in the fifth game.
“When they started to get tired, and started to make a few errors, they got down on each other and they cannot do that,” she said. “They have to build each other up when that happens.”
Fischer also added that she didn’t have one of her top players in junior Gylia Dryden playing due to an injury she had suffered a week ago — and that disrupted things. Mancino, who had 18 assists and six digs, played through a badly bruised right wrist and hand, which she sustained at a tournament at Eastport-South Manor on September 14. She missed a few practices, and even sat out the match on September 16 against Hampton Bays because of it, and Mancino re-aggravated it diving for a ball during Friday’s match, but she continued to play through the pain.
“She played her heart out. She’s tough as nails,” Fischer said of Mancino.
“Today, it was still kind of sore, but I taped it up in the beginning of the game and just kind of went on and pushed through,” Mancino said. “Digging up those balls probably doesn’t help, but ice is my best friend.”
Prior to the loss to Mattituck, Pierson had won its first five matches of the season, getting the players excited about this season.
“It’s amazing,” Cox said about the team’s strong start. “For my senior year, I was really hoping we’d have great chemistry. We play as hard as we can on the court, and that’s exactly what we’ve been doing, and I’m so proud of these girls. We’ve been putting in 110 percent in practice, and hopefully we’ll continue to grow as a team and bond together. We’re friends on and off the court, so it’s great.”
Pierson is scheduled to host Shelter Island this Friday at 6:15 p.m., will play in a tournament at Shoreham/Wading River on Saturday and will host Greenport/Southold on October 2 at 6:15 p.m.