In Tuesday night’s girls volleyball match between Connetquot and Smithtown West, the host Thunderbirds took a common idiom and flipped it on its head.
For each step backward, Connetquot took two (or three, or four) steps forward.
Connetquot (13-0) utilized nine scoring spurts of three points or more while holding Smithtown West (8-2) to just two such runs, limiting the Bulls’ chances of coming back. Gabby Carere and Kiarra Roth each had 10 kills and Diana Migliozzi had 19 assists for Connetquot in its 25-15, 25-16, 25-14 non-league win.
Katie Hickey, a 6-3 middle, had five kills and three blocks and said stopping runs before they start is about staying composed.
“As soon as you start breaking down, it never works out,” Hickey said. “We just stay together, and everything works out.”
Part of mounting runs starts at the service line, where Connetquot excelled. The Thunderbirds recorded just five service errors compared to 11 aces, led by three from Carere and two apiece from Migliozzi, Julia Patsos and Ryann Grable.
Carere opened the match with an ace before recording three straight Connetquot points later in the first set. Hannah Naja (six kills) scored to narrow Smithtown West’s deficit to 23-15, but Carere and Roth tallied consecutive kills for the 25-15 win.
Emma Hughes helped get Smithtown West out to a 4-0 lead in the second set, and the Bulls led 8-5 before Carere’s kill put Connetquot back in control at the service line. Migliozzi served six straight points — punctuated by an ace — putting the Thunderbirds ahead 12-8. They coasted the rest of the set with Kylie Wixted imposing her will at the net.
Migliozzi’s serving was impactful, but her biggest contribution came in delivering accurate sets off the passes of Patsos, Lauren Konzen and Karly Colletti.
“Our setter, Diana, does a really nice job of spreading the ball around, so we each get a breather,” Carere said.
The third set was when Smithtown West put together its only other run of three points or more, a 4-0 spurt that cut Connetquot’s lead to 20-12. It proved too little, too late, as Carere finished off the match with consecutive kills on assists from Patsos and Nicole Seravillo, respectively.
Last season’s runner up in Suffolk Class AA to Commack, Connetquot gained invaluable experience and returned nearly its entire team. Carere said last fall was “really important to us,” and explained how “this year was just easier because we already had a base for our team.”
A base predicated on stopping runs before they start. Several steps forward without ever taking too many steps back.