Pierson Volleyball Team is Still Finding its Stride

Pierson senior Hannah Tuma with a dig against Babylon on Monday. The Lady Whalers won the match, 3-0. Michael Heller photos

The history is there to support the Lady Whalers’ hopes for another championship season this year, and you don’t have to look into the distant past to find precedent for another title run. The Pierson/Bridgehampton girls volleyball team, which won Suffolk County, Long Island and Southeast Regional Class C championships one season ago, will have to get past powerhouse Mattituck in the playoffs in order to achieve those goals. And Mattituck, which was a Class B team las year, has already beaten the Lady Whalers twice this season.

“Last year, with Stony Brook, the same thing happened. We lost to them twice and then we beat them in the county final,” Pierson junior Sam Cox pointed out after her team’s 3-0 win over Babylon on Monday. “So we just need to think anything is possible and just execute.”

The Lady Whalers (6-2 in League VIII, 9-2 overall) squeaked out a 25-21 win in game one on Monday, but then dominated the visiting Lady Panthers over the next two games, winning 25-11 and 25-13. Cox and Bridgehampton sophomore Gylia Dryden consistently made plays at the net, combining for 30 kills, most of which were set up by sophomore Sofia Mancino, who had 30 assists.

Pierson’s Sam Cox serves against Babylon.

“We’ve been working a lot on different plays and setting different people up, and looking at coach to follow the plays,” Pierson coach Donna Fisher said, smiling while she mentioned the part about looking to the sideline for plays. “The girls are playing hard every single ball.”

Cox, whose jump serve also made a difference on Monday, praised Dryden’s development after the match and said her continued improvement could make a difference if and when a third meeting with Mattituck comes along.

“As an underclassman, she’s amazing,” Cox said about Dryden. “She’s improved so much this year. She’s hitting it straight down and hard and timing her hits perfectly. She’s going to be unstoppable.”

Fisher said Dryden has “gotten better, and better and better” this season, adding a strong middle presence to match the outside play of Cox, Aziza El and Celia Barranco at the net. Another frontline player made her debut on Friday in freshman Angela Gardella, who served well and impressed her head coach.

“I was super proud of her,” Fisher said about her newest player. “Blocks are important. Aziza is blocking our right side and Gylia is key in the middle. When she’s on, nobody can do anything.”

Pierson will play at Shelter Island on Friday, October 19, at 5:45 p.m. and will host its fourth annual invitational tournament on Saturday with Southampton, Hampton Bays, Shelter Island, Greenport, Center Moriches, Pierson, Bellport and East Hampton’s junior varsity team expected to attend. The team will play its final home game, and honor seniors El, Barranco and Hannah Tuma, on Monday against Greenport at 6:15 p.m. before closing out the regular season at Babylon at 5:45 p.m.