It’s been a bumpy road for the Connetquot girls volleyball team, but if a 9-2 record in Suffolk League II is considered “bumpy,” then the Thunderbirds will gladly take it.
Coming off a loss to Northport – the second time the T-Birds have lost to the Tigers this season – Connetquot responded with a 25-13, 25-11, 25-22 win over visiting Lindenhurst on Monday night.
“I would say that it took them a little while to figure themselves out, figure out which direction we were going to go – whether we were going to be a team that could grind out some matches, or if we were going to be scared in matches,” Justin Hertz said, alluding to the youth of a team that has just two seniors in Alex Parillo and Kendall Lillie.
Tournaments have helped, Hertz said, but so did losing to Northport. The T-Birds first loss to Northport – a 3-1 defeat on Sept. 17 – was their first loss to a Long Island opponent since November 2014. In that span, they had won two state championships and three Long Island Class AA championships.
So, the loss stung. But Kiarra Roth, who was a dominant force at the net against Lindenhurst (2-9), has used those losses as motivation.
“I honestly feel like we’re going to come back hungrier,” she said.
After going through several iterations of the starting lineup, Hertz said he tightened up his rotation “about three weeks ago.”
It involved moving Julia Patsos from libero to outside hitter, where she’s thrived as one of the team’s mightiest swingers. Diana Migliozzi, who started the season as a setter but moved outside, is now back setting.
Eighth-grader Lauren Konzen and freshman Karly Colletti are learning the varsity game on the fly making big contributions as back-row defenders. Laurel Edwards, Ryann Grable, Stephanie Paye and Gabriella Carera, among others, get in on the action, too.
“Yes, the losses stung them, and they definitely don’t have a good taste in their mouths after a loss, but they definitely still have their eyes in the right direction,” Hertz said.
They want to follow in the footsteps of past teams and win a county championship … and then some.