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Abigail Cullen has 19 kills in Wantagh girls volleyball’s win

Crista Esposito of Lynbrook sets the ball during

Crista Esposito of Lynbrook sets the ball during a Nassau Conference A1 varsity girls volleyball match against Wantagh at Lynbrook High School on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2016. Wantagh won the match 3-1. Credit: James Escher

Abigail Cullen is always trying to “hit it through the floor.”

The senior outside hitter nearly made craters in the Lynbrook gym on Thursday night, racking up 19 kills in Wantagh’s 3-1 (25-13, 25-23, 27-25, 25-18) win in Nassau A-I girls volleyball.

“If it’s a weaker blocking team, then I just try to swing through it and hit it into the ground,” said Cullen, who also added eight digs and three blocks. “If they’re a good blocking team or they’re tall, I’ll try and place so that we can hit around or over.”

Lynbrook fell somewhere in the middle. The Owls had decent size, but Cullen said she was able to find holes in the block and hit hard strike after hard strike.

She wasn’t Lynbrook’s only worry. Jillian Graham and Sarah Corry possess equally as powerful right arms, leaving the Owls’ defenders scrambling to make contact with the ball.

“We’ve trained so hard to learn how to use our entire body and just get our arm up and swing all the way through it,” Corry said. “Having the height and jumping high helps, but it’s also strength.”

Cullen and Graham both stand 5-10, while Corry stands 5-11. They used this height to generate power off sets from Shannon Hagan, who had 36 assists.

The Warriors led from 1-0 in the first set and didn’t relinquish the lead. The second set saw Lynbrook storm back from an 8-2 deficit and eventually lead, 21-20, before Wantagh came back to win, 25-23.

The third set belonged to Lynbrook (1-1). The Owls rode strong performances from hitters Kerrin Montgomery and Grace O’Dwyer and libero Rebecca Shear to seal a tough 27-25 win.

Wantagh (4-0) was able to overcome the loss of momentum in the fourth, holding off the Owls late and taking the set, 25-18.

“They were putting up a strong block, and they’re libero’s insane, so it was hard to find spots,” Graham said. “But when we did, we got it down.”

Because of Shear’s strong play, the Warriors resorted to tipping the ball quite often, which Graham said goes against their general plan of attack. But when opportunities to drive the ball to the ground arose, the Warriors capitalized.

Nassau teams could struggle this season to combat the powerful trio of Cullen, Graham and Corry. But Cullen offered the opposition some advice as to how to prepare.

“I think I would be afraid,” she said. “I would definitely try and work on blocking in practice if I knew we were playing us, just to have a chance to get a touch on the ball and play defense.”

With the way those three hit the ball, it’ll be a slim chance.


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