The perfect storm has been brewing in Bay Shore for the last seven years, and Kiersten DeCamp is ready to unleash the Marauders’ might on the rest of the Suffolk girls volleyball scene.
Ever since Bay Shore coach Stasia DeBonis started the district’s feeder program when DeCamp was a sixth grader, the talent has slowly improved. DeCamp, one of the first players to take full advantage of DeBonis’ open gyms, is now ready to make the rest of Suffolk take notice with playoffs looming.
Bay Shore and DeCamp took a pivotal step Thursday, defeating perennial power Connetquot, 3-1, in front of a packed gymnasium on senior day. DeCamp, a senior outside hitter, had 10 digs, three kills and three blocks and has had a monster season in all facets. For her efforts, she is Newsday’s Athlete of the Week.
“Kiersten has had a fire inside of her since sixth grade,” DeBonis said. “She wanted to win. She wanted to be involved in every play. She didn’t want to sit the bench.”
When 100 girls showed up at middle school volleyball tryouts, DeBonis had to turn away 80 hopeful players without an outlet to continue playing. That prompted her to begin open sessions available to any middle schooler looking to hone their craft. DeCamp and the current team’s other seniors — Caitlin Christie, Delaney Roan, Ali Susskind, Caroline Casey, April Sexton and Leila McKeller — all took advantage.
Now, Bay Shore is 10-1 and not just a playoff team. It’s a playoff contender.
“We started really early on, and I think we all knew that this was a sport that was really special,” DeCamp said. “Stasia just guided us every single year. We just worked together all this time.”
The first thing that caught DeBonis’ eye was DeCamp’s raw power. The service line in middle school is three feet closer to the net than it is in high school to compensate for new players learning to serve, but DeCamp still had no problems peppering the back wall. From there, it was about turning her power into a consistent threat for opposing defenses to account for.
Even if hitting always came somewhat naturally, DeCamp didn’t settle for being just a hitter. She wanted to be just as strong defensively.
“I think serve receives and defense were the hardest for me to get good at it,” she said. “This past year or two years, that’s been my main focus. I just wanted to be the best I could be passing for my team because I’ve always been a hitter. Now I’m really making sure my passes are perfect for my setter.”
On varsity since eighth grade and a captain since 10th grade, DeCamp is a Bay Shore volleyball staple. Without her, the program might not be knocking on the door of joining the county’s elite.
“I think we’re going to remember the heart that this team has,” DeCamp said. “I’ve played many years of volleyball at many different levels, but this team — handily — has the most heart."