The Commack girls volleyball team looked different than its usual dominant self in the third set of Monday’s Suffolk League I match against host Patchogue-Medford.
After controlling the opening two sets, the Cougars started “flat” for the third set, in the words of captain Abbey Dummler. A well-called timeout turned the tide back in their favor.
“When they started pushing back, we took a deep breath, relaxed and pushed back harder,” co-captain Emily Haber said.
Haber’s consecutive aces gave Commack its first lead of the third set midway through, then the Cougars staved off a feisty Patchogue-Medford squad the rest of the way in a 25-15, 25-17, 25-22 win.
Commack (11-0), seeking its second straight undefeated regular season, plays at home 4 p.m. Thursday against Ward Melville in the finale.
Haber was vocal during the pivotal third-set timeout. Even as Commack’s 22-17 lead faded to 22-21, she remained upbeat. Her defense sparked the offense, which received contributions from Natalie Billet (eight kills), Abby Harper (eight), Carly Haegele (five) and Dummler (four).
Haegele also had 15 assists. Gabi D’Agostino added 10.
Few players were more impactful late than middle hitter Korinn Bischoff, whose three kills and two blocks helped Commack overcome the contributions of Caitlin Dellecave, Alexis Stoehrer and Kayla Martin for Patchogue-Medford (6-6).
“I guess it shows us that we can really come back if we’re down,” Dummler said. “When we’re playing together as a team, then we’re fine. There’s nothing stopping us but ourselves.”
Last season, Commack reached the Suffolk Class AA final for the first time in program history but fell to Connetquot, the eventual state champions. Haber said that loss has served as a learning experience for a group anxious to prove itself.
“Coming back this season, it just motivates us,” she said. “It fuels the fire.”
The Cougars have lost just one set this season – 25-20 to Sachem East in the first set of an eventual 3-1 win on Oct. 10 – but there have been other moments when they’ve had to rally to win.
With their scrappy defense and relentless attitude, the Cougars hope to make more history when the playoffs begin.
“I can never really count them out,” said coach Anthony Barone, who said he never would have envisioned this core of 10 seniors taking the program to new heights. “They’re a very composed group. They don’t panic. They don’t really divert from just playing volleyball.”