Nothing came easy for Smithtown East, though that was to be expected against the Bulls’ primary competition in Suffolk III girls volleyball.

The Bulls survived what coach George Alamia called a “sloppy” first set to outlast Centereach, 25-19, 21-25, 25-22, 25-21, in a match between two undefeated teams Thursday night.

“I thought we started off slow,” Alamia said. “We got Game 1, even though there were times in Game 1 I thought they outplayed us. They hustle all over the court; they’re very scrappy.”

As Smithtown East’s top all-around threat, Haley Anderson was crucial in keeping the Bulls competitive. Despite fighting a sinus infection, the returning member of Newsday’s All-Long Island first team tallied 27 kills.

“I was a little groggy, but I was able to push through it,” she said. “We didn’t let the mistakes get in our heads.”

Anderson said the Bulls kept their composure in the midst of the slow start, allowing them to come back and take the final two games.

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Steph Berdon (12 kills, six blocks) and Brooke Berroyer (42 assists) also played important parts in the victory.

Angela Napolitano (11 kills, six blocks) and Haley Timarky (23 assists, six kills) paced Centereach (4-1), Emily Timarky (24 digs) and Amanda Goldstein (nine kills) were also contributors.

Smithtown East (6-0) has won nine straight Suffolk III titles, and this win proves that the Bulls again have the talent to top the league. Even without outside hitter Allie Brady, who Alamia said is out for the season with a torn ACL, the Bulls have had players step up and perform.

“Our first goal is to win our league,” Alamia said. “We’re going for our 10th consecutive League III championship. That’s our first goal, and they are in our way. They matched our intensity. If anything, in some games, I thought they had a little more.”

The two teams square off in the final match of the regular season on Oct. 25. Both sides will need to bring the intensity, as the outcome could determine Suffolk III’s champion.