The Smithtown East girls volleyball team found its unofficial season mascot after just one team bonding session. Sitting at the end of the bench during Thursday’s straight-sets win (25-17, 25-18, 25-19) in Suffolk AA-III over visiting Newfield was a white stuffed unicorn donning a Smithtown East jersey.
The magic of the mythical creature rubbed off on outside hitter Haley Anderson and setter Brooke Berroyer, as the duo linked up time and time again to punish the Newfield defense.
“We worked a lot in practice — me and my setter — back and forth with hitting,” said Anderson, who tallied an efficient 19 kills on 28 attempts.
“I have a lot of trust in my hitters, so that makes it easier for me,” said Berroyer. “I know I can go to any position and we’re going to do well.”
Many of Berroyer’s 32 assists went to Anderson. The tandem worked together like clockwork. After the serve was received, Berroyer sent perfectly placed sets high and outside to Anderson, a senior bound for Quinnipiac next season.
Deanna Downs was also a beneficiary of Berroyer’s accuracy, notching 13 kills.
Berroyer impressed with sets from one side of the court to the other, passing with the same accuracy as if it was a pass two feet to either side.
She was integral in kick-starting the Bulls’ offense in the first set, picking up 10 assists in a 25-17 win. The 25-18 second set was anchored by Anderson’s eight kills, though Newfield’s combination of setter Dalia Perez and outside hitter Naomi Ruffalo-Roman connected multiple times to keep things close.
Contributions from Steph Berdon, Jill Pesce and Grace Faulhaber helped Smithtown East hang on in the third after taking a 19-18 lead. Downs’ late kill helped seal the 25-19 win.
“They definitely had a really good libero,” Anderson said of Jessica Clark, the leader of Newfield’s defense. “Their defense was well set up.”
Constant pressure was the solution to a stingy Newfield (1-1) defense. A steady stream of pulverizing hits from Anderson and Downs — set up by Berroyer — kept the Wolverines on their toes.
Smithtown East’s talented core suggests that the Bulls could be contenders in Suffolk AA. Thursday’s season-opening showing against Newfield supports that sentiment.
“Right now we’re going to take it game by game, but we’re hoping for a county championship,” said Anderson.
With a little bit of the unicorn’s magic, Smithtown East might just get there.