September 27, 2006
Baymen Dominate Pierson On Court
Last season the Hampton Bays girls' volleyball team took a major step towards reaching the finals of the Suffolk County Class C championship. The Lady Baymen were denied the class crown in 2005 by a tough Center Moriches squad. They don't intend to repeat history this season. Rewriting is a much better word.
"Our goal is to make the playoffs again this season," said coach Andy Fotopoulos. "We were in the finals of the Class C last year and our goal is to get back there again."
Last Wednesday Hampton Bays began its journey to the postseason with a dominating three-game sweep of Pierson at home. The Baymen won easily by scores of 25-7, 25-11 and 25-15. "There was a lot of great serving by our players and we did some good things," said Fotopoulos.
The only challenge Hampton Bays encountered was early in the opening game as it held a slim 6-5 lead over the Whalers. Concerns were quickly erased when Marian Leeman got the opportunity to serve . . . and serve . . and serve. Her 12-point run broke the game open and gave the Baymen an 18-5 lead.
Leeman, a senior captain, is one of six starting seniors; a powerful middle hitter who gives the Baymen strength at the net on offense while boasting a very tough serve. She also blocks the ball among the best on the team.
On Wednesday, Leeman served her way to a terrific three-game performance that included 11 aces, 6 kills and 2 blocks. In game two, Hampton Bays opened a large early lead and withstood a minor late surge from Pierson. Game three saw Baymen reserve players' debut. Junior Lexi Sheppard had 4 assists while senior Daniel Hand ended up with 8 digs in the back row. Junior outside hitter Laura Duenas got her first kill of the year.
Outside hitter Jamie Small, who solidifies Hampton Bays' offense and defense and is also the top passer and defender, according to Fotopoulos. She had an excellent afternoon, totaling 6 aces and 4 kills.
Kristin Taylor, the Baymen's starting setter, had a game-high 11 assists and 12 digs. Fotopoulos called her, "the quarterback of our team. She runs the show; she hustles on the court and gets to a lot of balls." Taylor's hustle and quickness proved to be a big plus on Wednesday for a team that is not blessed with amazing speed.
Starter Joanna Lebkowsi, a middle hitter in the front row, also played well in the win for Hampton Bays (1-2 in League V), totaling 5 kills and 2 blocks while freshman Rachel Tufano had 9 assists, 4 kills, and 4 aces.
Tufano, one of the team's tallest players, can also play setter after gaining valuable varsity experience last year "She does a great job at the net and never comes out of the game," said Fotopoulos.
April Bennett, another freshman, used her tremendous jumping skills on Wednesday to record 3 kills and 4 aces. Fotopoulos remarked that Bennett is already becoming one of the team's best hitters.
"We played really well and our objective was not to worry about what the other team did; but just to concentrate on our side of the court, be consistent and cut down errors," Fotopoulos said. "In the first game, we made some errors early, but once we cut down on them, we took control."
Defensive specialist/serving specialist Victoria Adduci, Daniel Hand (defensive specialist/back row protector) along with middle hitters Ashley Beecher and Ashley Case have all been contributing this season.
"We'll have a good combination of youth and experience on the court at any given time," Fotopoulos said. "Our league is very tough though. John Glenn, Mt Sinai and Bayport are all very good . . . we hope to be in the middle of the pack somewhere and we'll look to go .500."
One thing that sets the Baymen's minds at ease is knowing that once they get through their difficult regular season schedule in League VII, they won't have to worry about facing the same opponents in the postseason. Why? Because Hampton Bays is the only Class C team in League VII.
The Baymen started the season 1-2 in league play and appear to be a team that will likely stay in the hunt for the playoffs down to the very last week of the regular season. "Our experience is a strength because we start six seniors who have been through the battles," said Fotopoulos. They've been a part of it already.