Lady Whaler Volleyball
By Andrew Rudansky
Pierson’s Varsity Volleyball team came up just short in a painfully close matchup against the Center Moriches Red Devils on Monday, September 26.
Despite appearing confident prior to the game, the Lady Whalers (2-3) seemed unready for the visiting Red Devils (2-2) at the outset, dropping the first game in quick fashion, 16-25.
“I was actually very surprised that we lost the first game,” said Head Coach Stacey Springer. “We just went into the match so cold.”
The Lady Whalers trailed for most of the first game. Miscommunications, misplaced bumps, and well-placed Red Devil serves kept the Lady Whalers from putting together a string of retaliatory points, and put them in a 0-1 hole.
Despite the team’s overall struggles, two of Pierson’s starting seniors, Madeline Puckett and Morgan Lazar, showed positive signs early in the match. Puckett had been knocked out of the early part of the Lady Whalers’ season after she sprained her ankle in the first week of the season, and is only now returning to the lineup.
The second game highlighted many of the Whalers’ struggles in game one; with the Red Devils gaining an early 3-0 lead. However this game was to be a more two-sided affair thanks to the great ancillary play of sophomore center May Evjen. This season is her first year at the position.
Pierson’s first lead of the game came off an Evjen set to a Jennah Hochstedler spike. A withering barrage of spikes from seniors Rebecca Speckenbach and Chelsea Freleng, most coming off of Evjen sets, gave the Whalers a 20-11 lead, their largest lead up to that point.
After dominating for much of game two, the Whalers appeared to have dropped their guards. They were outscored 14-2 in the last 16 points of the game, and lost the second game 22-25.
With that loss the Whalers were down two games to none, and facing a must-win situation in the third game.
Determined to extend the match beyond three games, the Lady Whalers took an early 4-0 lead thanks to great serves from Lazar. Much like the second game, Pierson’s early lead began to slip, and by point 23, Pierson was once again down.
After subbing in, sophomore Lily Kunzeman made immediate impact for the team, helping them outscore Center Moriches 10-1 in the stretch.
“[Kunzeman] definitely shined a little bit,” said Springer. “Lily is a very strong, and by strong I mean powerful, player.”
With her help Pierson took the third game 25-22, rekindling their hopes for a win.
Speckenbach stepped up in game four, getting her team four straight points while serving. Two of those points came from great defensive blocks from Puckett at the net. Pierson ended up winning the fourth game handily, 25-19.
Tied at two a piece, the match went into the fifth and final game. The Lady Whalers showed signs of fatigue in the fifth game, getting outplayed and outscored, 16-6 at the start.
Kunzeman helped stem the tide by hitting back-to-back aces on her punishing serve. Senior Christina Martin was also able to do some damage with her serve in the final game, while senior Hayley Schimmer used her spike to score several more points for the home team.
In the end it was too little, too late, and Center Moriches took the final and deciding game 19-25. The game point came when senior Schimmer bumped the ball into the ceiling on a return.
“There are no easy games on the schedule…because the team is so up and down,” said Springer. “We sometimes have to fight to the finish.” Springer said that consistency and communication were key aspects of the game that the team needs to work on.
Their (2-4) record currently puts Pierson in fourth place in League VIII. Shelter Island currently sits on top of the leader board with a dominating (6-0) record. The Lady Whalers next go to (1-5) Stony Brook on Monday, October 3 at 4:30 p.m. Their next home game is against (4-3) Port Jefferson on Wednesday, October 5 at 4:30 p.m.