They were feeling so good that not even losing a match could dampen the high spirits of a very competitive group of Huntington High School girls’ volleyball players on Tuesday afternoon.
It was Senior Day in Louis D. Giani Gymnasium and it was time to celebrate the careers of some very special teenagers who have given their all to the school and sport and to each other.
While the Blue Devils dropped a 3-0 verdict to visiting West Islip, Huntington’s players couldn’t help but smile on a day when the team pulled together and collectively realized just how fortunate they have been to be together all this time.
Huntington seniors Lindsay Saginaw
and Julia Rogan. (Darin Reed photo.)
Seniors Myasia Gaskin, Alexandra Heuwetter, Jaime Ioppolo, Deanna Morales, Rachel Moss, Julia Rogan and Lindsay Saginaw were recognized for their contributions to the program.
Blue Devil head coach Lauren Visbal spoke about the group before the match began. Underclassmen created posters honoring their senior teammates in a touching manner.
“Even though we ended up losing, I think I can speak for all of us when I say it was an overall great day,” Rogan said. “We had fun playing and spending our last moments together as team. I couldn’t think of a better group of girls to be leaving the program with. Playing for Huntington volleyball all these years has given me a place I could push myself to be the best, all the while encouraging others to do the same. I’ve grown so much as a person because of this sport and it will always have a very special place in my heart.”
The Blue Devil girls’ volleyball program has become much more competitive in recent years and the seven seniors honored on Tuesday afternoon all played a part in that improvement.
“Senior Day was a great experience,” Heuwetter said. “I decided to tryout for volleyball in my sophomore year without having any prior experience playing the sport. I am so glad that I made that decision because it’s hard to imagine not being on this team. I’ve met so many wonderful girls and created memories that will last a lifetime.”
The seniors are not only great players on the court, they are leaders, too. They have been superb role models for the underclassmen and will leave behind a sturdy foundation to building upon.
“It was definitely a very emotional day for all of the seniors because some of us have been playing together for around six years,” Saginaw said. “I’m so grateful that I got to play with such a wonderful group of ladies this season and I’m looking forward to seeing what they will accomplish next year. Playing on Huntington volleyball for four years has taught me so much about unity and friendship and I would like to thank Coach Visbal for helping to build up this program that is so important to every one of us.”
The interest today in girls’ volleyball dwarfs what it was just a few years ago. There are so many talented young players on the team now and in the pipeline that many view Huntington as a program on the rise.
“I’m so proud of the improvements our team has made this year,” Moss said. “It’s sad knowing that I’ve finished my last volleyball season at Huntington, but I am so grateful for the friendships I have made while playing with these girls.”
The seniors were given colorful bouquets of flowers while parents were presented with a long stemmed rose.
“I would say that Senior Day felt a bit unreal and exciting,” Morales said. “It may have been a defeat for the last match, but it was a huge chapter in my life to play volleyball for Huntington High. To look back at all three years of playing, I would have never believed this day would actually come. I’ll always have love for my sport and my team.”
One thing is for sure; the seniors will always remember the time they spent on the Blue Devil squad. The practices and team meetings, the home and away meets and the long bus rides all contributed to a sturdy bond forming between players.
“Senior Day was filled with energy,” Ioppolo said. “Everyone wanted to put there all into the last time they’d be seeing the Huntington High School volleyball court. Even though we didn’t end up winning, it was a great way to end the season. The posters the younger girls made for us meant so much to us all. It still hasn’t hit me that it was my last time playing for a high school team. I’m going to really miss it. Joining this team showed me what a team really is. I loved all the girls and became so close with the ones who recently came up to varsity. I wish I could do it all again. The memories from my high school volleyball team will always have a special place in my heart.”