Alexa Morgan’s execution of the offensive game plan was nearly flawless, even after some unexpected changes from the defense forced her to make adjustments.
The Lindenhurst setter tallied 38 assists in a 25-17, 25-16, 25-16 win over visiting Sachem North in a Suffolk AA-II girls volleyball match Wednesday night, but the Flaming Arrows hit her with an obstacle that she didn’t expect.
Ashley Levatino, a 6-2 hitter who played outside the last time Sachem North played Lindenhurst, was moved to the middle block for this match. With exceptional length and jumping ability, Levatino racked up eight blocks, forcing Lindenhurst to adjust its offense.
“I tried to avoid her and find a shorter blocker because I knew it would be easier,” Morgan said. “I tried to work around her.”
So instead of constantly feeding her own middle hitters, Morgan worked the outside. Coach Kellie Block wanted the Bulldogs to “run pin to pin” in an effort to get Levatino moving instead of attacking her head on.
Morgan orchestrated the offense from there, finding hitters Kristie Van Florcke (14 kills), Sophia Castellano (10 kills, nine digs) and Ashley Chieca (nine kills, seven blocks).
“I just had to hit it around (Levatino), pay attention to where she is,” Chieca said.
That’s all Chieca had to worry about, as Morgan was able to corral the occasional errant pass and put her hitters behind the ball, leaving them in opportune positions to strike.
It was Morgan’s serving that gave Lindenhurst (6-2) an advantage in the first. Her seven consecutive service points midway through the set put some distance between the Bulldogs and Sachem North (0-8).
The Bulldogs led 17-6 in the second before the Flaming Arrows narrowed the deficit to 21-15. Lindenhurst ran away with the set from there.
Morgan had 14 assists in an easy third, the most she had in any set. “I have a lot of faith in everyone,” Morgan said. “If it’s an off pass, I know I can just set it front row or back row. They can all adjust if the pass is off.”
Lindenhurst’s cohesiveness will be tested in league matches against Whitman (5-3) this Friday and Connetquot (8-0), winner of the state Class AA championship last season, next Friday.
“I’m already excited for the next time we play them,” Morgan said. “I think they’re definitely our best competition.”
Given how the Bulldogs responded to a little adversity against the Flaming Arrows, they appear up to the test.