The Huntington varsity girls’ volleyball team gave perennial county power Bellport all it could handle in a match that played out in Louis D. Giani Gymnasium.
The Blue Devils pushed the Clippers to the deciding fifth game before falling. But it was a moral victory and a performance that won’t soon be forgotten by the team, which is striving to reach the Suffolk playoffs while battling some tough league opponents.
“It was a fantastic match,” head coach Todd Donaghy told his Huntington players. “I think it was a great way to start the season. A win would have been great, but pushing a program which has won 14 league championships and a county championship to five games should have each of you believing one hundred percent that this could be a playoff season.
Huntington gave Bellport a scare. The Clippers won the first game, 25-15 before the Blue Devils captured the second one, 25-23. Bellport came back to win the third game by a 25-17 score, but Huntington responded by taking the fourth game by a 25-21 margin. The Clippers then grabbed the deciding frame by a 25-17 score.
“From my perspective, it was a great match, but we can play better than we played,” Donaghy said. “Every aspect of our game could have been better, however it was our first match of the season, so we will get better. A short-term memory is the best medication for managing mistakes and losses throughout a long season.”
Donaghy had sage advice for his players. “Remember this piece of information each and every time you step onto the court,” he told them. “All athletes make mistakes, but champions don’t dwell on their mistakes. They may lose, but they won’t lose the lesson. The objective for all athletes and teams is to constantly make corrections while dumping out the rest. Your mentality will either hold you down or bring you up, so always regard a temporary setback as an opportunity to make a major comeback.”
The Blue Devil squad consists of captains Shannon Kehoe and Grace Stolfa, a pair of talented seniors along with sophomore Kathryn Barba; juniors Megan Donaghy, Lauren Gennarelli, Renee McKean and Haileigh Smith; and seniors Maddy Bavaro, Cassidy Casabona, Kianna Crisuola, Naysa Escobar, Caroline Gorecki, Francesca Stamatatos and Sophia Toscano.
“The girls definitely seem to have a lot of potential this season,” Stolfa said. “I’m so excited to compete with this team. We should definitely bring home some wins. I’m glad to be a part of this growing varsity volleyball program.”
Huntington clearly has its eyes on a spot in the playoffs. It is what motivates the players on a daily basis. The group has become very tight knit.
“We have a large amount of returning players this season with a few new add-ons who all are ready to get back out there,” Kehoe said. “The season is looking good. We’ve definitely made improvements since last season and are a better rounded team. I’m excited to start our season.”
Huntington’s junior varsity squad, which is coached by Brian Donaghy also played well despite dropping its match to Bellport.
The JV roster includes freshmen Cynthia Argueta, Brianna Borenstein, Lindsay Depeine, L
auren Donaghy and Isabella Morris; sophomores Anny Carrillo-Polanco, Zaida Correal, Joanna Lee, Neurdia Osias, Aylana Powell and Jayla Robinson; and juniors Sophie Bradford and Rana Elfaham.
“This season will be a process; one in which the girls on varsity have been through before as well,” Todd Donaghy told the JV. “You’re going up against very strong programs in every contest and most of these programs have athletes who have multiple players who play club volleyball throughout the year. Games 1 and 3 were well played. You were somewhat inconsistent, but that’s to be expected. However at times you looked great. The passing at times was spot on. The setting, considering Brianna and Lauren are new to the position was very good, you had some nice hits and served well. I think that you're going to be surprised as to how good you can be by season’s end.”