GLENS FALLS, N.Y. - As the only seniors on Massapequa's girls volleyball team, Justine Abbate and Katie Vedilago have seen a lot of success on the courts across Long Island. The Chiefs have won the Nassau title 14 straight times, but 2013 was the first time any member of this team has played in the state championship tournament.
Although it did not go quite as planned because the Chiefs bowed out Saturday in Class AA pool play, a young Massapequa team gained valuable experience, reaching the state tournament for the first time since the Chiefs won it all in 2007.
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"It was amazing, it was surreal to be on the court," Vedilago said. "Coach [Carol Ann] Habeeb puts so much into the program, and just being able to reward her by coming back to states . . . is a great feeling."
Massapequa got off to a rough start, losing, 25-14, to Baldwinsville in the first game of pool play. The Chiefs were resilient in the second game, overcoming a 23-20 deficit to take a 25-24 lead after a kill by Abbate. But Massapequa was unable to close it out and lost, 27-25. It was that series of points that was most crucial to the Chiefs.
Massapequa then dropped two games to John Jay (Hopewell Junction) by scores of 25-13 and 25-19, and then lost to Mercy (Rochester), 25-16, 25-17. Still, the Chiefs got big contributions from sophomores Mikayla Porr and Kole Pollock and freshman Jamie Smith.
With the experience of breaking through the Long Island championship barrier and getting to play on the biggest stage in the state this year, it could be a positive for Massapequa down the road.
It may have been a disappointing end to a weekend that began with high hopes, but you can be sure Massapequa will be back just as strong in 2014.
"I know my underclassmen will use this to their advantage," Habeeb said. "It was a great experience to play in this arena against great competition."