Nothing was going Northport’s way early, and by Andrew Watts’ own admission, it was mostly the fault of the players.
Watts said he and his Tigers boys volleyball teammates came out flat, and because volleyball is a high-energy game, that translated to issues on the court.
But Watts, a 6-7 junior middle hitter, took it upon himself to provide a spark. It worked, as Northport overcame a two-game deficit to beat host Ward Melville, 21-25, 26-28, 25-22, 25-16, 15-11, in Suffolk I on Monday.
“The whole match was very tight,” said Watts, who had 17 kills and four blocks. “Once we really started to get the energy up, everyone in the gym on their side was totally quiet.
“My focus on the court is not just to be the best skill-wise, but it’s to try to get the energy up. Volleyball is totally a team thing, and you can’t do anything without the team.”
His teammates picked up the slack, as setter Ryan Parker had 42 assists and libero Trent Mayer had 32 digs. Their play was much improved starting in the third set, according to coach Amanda DiPietro.
“In the first two sets, we just didn’t have a lot of energy,” DiPietro said. “We had unforced errors. We were able to hang with [Ward Melville], but we weren’t able to edge out wins because of the errors.”
Patrick McCaffrey provided plenty of offense for Ward Melville (2-3). He had 19 kills and only three hitting errors while also tallying six digs and an ace.
Watts’ defense was a key component of his team’s turnaround. He said blocking is a prominent ingredient of the defense for Northport (3-1).
“I try to get a hand on every ball that comes over the net,” he said. “I just try and help my team because blocking is the first form of defense for our team.”
Northport is among a handful of teams expected to compete for a high playoff seed in Suffolk Class A, and DiPietro said overcoming a 2-0 deficit early in the season should help her players “realize their potential.”
Said Watts: “I feel like it brought the whole team together.”