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Nov 1, 2019 11:08 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Westhampton Beach Girls Volleyball Defeats Islip, Will Face Kings Park In County Semis

Westhampton Beach sophomore Emmie Koszalka had seven kills in Wednesday's victory. DREW BUDD
Nov 4, 2019 3:34 PM

The Westhampton Beach girls volleyball team won easily at Islip earlier in the season in a crossover match, leading the Lady Hurricanes to feel confident going into their Suffolk County Class A opening round match at home against the Lady Buccaneers on October 30. Maybe a little too confident.

After squeaking out a 26-24 victory in the first game, Westhampton Beach dropped the second game, 25-18, to a fired up and obviously much improved Islip team. But that loss seemed to wake up the Lady ’Canes, who won the third game, 25-12, before clinching the match in the fourth with a 25-20 victory to win the overall match, 3-1.

The victory advanced Westhampton Beach to the county semifinals at top-seeded Kings Park this Tuesday evening (see separate story).

“Islip is a great team, they got so much better from in-season, so I think we came into this game definitely confident, which is important, but a little too confident at the beginning,” Westhampton Beach senior Isabelle Smith said after the match. “I think them beating us that second game kind of put a fire under our you know whats.”

Smith’s teammates, junior setter Olivia Jayne (25 assists) and senior hitter Michelle Kryl (eight kills, three blocks), agreed.

“I think it allowed our hitters to hit harder and everyone to want it that much more,” Jayne said.

“We stopped being afraid of hitting it into the block or hitting into the net,” Kryl added.

Senior Ava Koszalka led Westhampton Beach with 10 kills while her younger sister, sophomore Emmie Koszalka, had seven.

Westhampton Beach head coach Lenny Zaloga said it had been quite a while since Islip last made the playoffs, and the fact that they lost to his team, 3-0, earlier in the season, gave the Lady Bucs a nothing-to-lose type attitude coming into the playoff match. But he knew once his team settled down it would win the match

“We know we’re a good team as long as we’re in control of the ball, but we’re not when we’re not in control. We don’t get out of trouble well, so we just had to do a better job of controlling the first ball. And then once we’re in system, we’re fine,” he explained. “We have really good hitters. Ava had a great hitting game today. I know we were not looking past this team, though, they played really well.”

Smith finished the match with 33 digs, which added to her career milestone of surpassing 2,000 digs earlier this season. She now has 2,120, having at least tripled the previous school record holder, Westhampton Beach boys varsity volleyball head coach Jackie Reed, a while back.

“Yes, it’s a milestone for me, but it’s a milestone for this whole team,” Smith said. “I said it the other day, and I’ll say it again: Volleyball is a game of working together, it’s a game of roles. Without a passer you don’t have a setter, without a setter you don’t get a good hit. So no one milestone is accomplished by one, but it’s accomplished by the whole team. I’m just happy to have these people around me to make me look good. It’s exciting, I’m so grateful.”

Now the attention turns to the county semifinal against a very familiar playoff opponent, in Kings Park. The two teams have met in the county final for the past five-straight seasons, and even though this year’s match will be on the Lady Kingsmen’s home court, the Lady ’Canes said that not having to face them in the county title game will ease some of the pressure. Of course, having been able to take two games from Kings Park — the only team in the county to take at least one game — the last time the two teams played one another in Westhampton Beach earlier this season, certainly gives them a confidence boost as well.

“A motto we went by this season is, ‘Play to win, not to compete,’” Smith said. “I think over the past five years, especially against Kings Park, we’ve played to compete against them. But this year, we’re competing to get a win. We’re competing for a county championship.”

Boys Volleyball Playoffs Set

The Westhampton Beach boys volleyball team finished the season as the top Division II team and eighth overall in Suffolk County with a 9-5 record (10-6 overall) and 128.06 power points. That netted the Hurricanes the top seed and a bye into the county championship match, which will be played Monday, November 11, at Newfield High School at 4 p.m.

The ’Canes will play the winner of No. 2 East Hampton (10-4 Division I, 10-5 overall, 122.34) and No. 3 Hauppauge (5-6 Division I, 76.63) which plays the semifinal match on Friday, November 8, in East Hampton at 4 p.m.

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