Talk about a turnaround.
The East Rockaway girls volleyball team struggled through a 1-11 campaign last fall and came into this season with hopes of flipping the script. While every team in their position tends to say the same, the Rocks did something different — they executed.
The top-seeded Rocks defeated No. 2 Carle Place, 3-0, Tuesday at SUNY-Old Westbury in the Nassau C championship. The Rocks won by scores of 25-18, 25-14, 25-18, improving to 10-7.
“This year, the work we put in since the first day in August to now, has been the best,” senior Diana Locoteta said.
“Class C is small, so playoffs is almost guaranteed,” coach Ksenia Brito said. “But this year I started the season and said, ‘Girls, we’re going to earn our spot, and we’re going to states.’ ”
The Rocks will play Suffolk representative Stony Brook in the Long Island Class C championship at 11 a.m. Saturday at Old Westbury.
Locoteta made her presence felt most at the service line, recording four aces and inciting scoring rallies for her side on multiple occasions. She served three consecutive aces in the second.
Her strength is hitting, and that’s obvious whether she’s on the line or swinging outside. She swings hard and hits harder, keeping the ball low and making it difficult to return.
“I actually do pick my spots when I serve, and for the most part I hit them,” she said. “I work hard for it.”
Locoteta (six kills) and Melissa Loyer (10 kills) fueled an outside-heavy attack against Carle Place (5-12), which relied on a strong back line early to hang with the Rocks. Jessica Loyer (10 assists), Joanna Acampora (five) and Kiera Popp (four) fed the duo with quality sets.
Offensive pressure eventually turned the tide in East Rockaway’s favor, as the Rocks took commanding leads in both the second and third sets to clinch the county title.
“We’re not done yet,” Locoteta said emphatically.
The Rocks are one win away from fulfilling their preseason goal. Now that would be a reversal of fortune.