Forget the Thanksgiving Day Parade, Diana Migliozzi and the rest of her Connetquot girls volleyball teammates had a parade of their own as they walked through the school hallways early last week. Everywhere Migliozzi went, scores of well-wishers were there, congratulating her on being a part of yet another state championship squad.
“I think it’s finally starting to sink in,” said Migliozzi, who is Newsday’s Athlete of the Week. “Going back to school was really cool. Every corner you turn, there were teachers and students saying congratulations. You almost feel famous walking through the hallways.”
And why not? Migliozzi was a huge part of the Thunderbirds' championship conquest, which was signed, sealed, and delivered last Sunday when they defeated Baldwinsville, 25-12, 25-18, 25-16, in the state Class AA final in Glens Falls. It was the program’s third title in the last five seasons and Migliozzi was a part of all of them, albeit with vastly different roles.
The now-senior setter was elevated to the varsity during the playoffs of her eighth grade season, mainly for depth, coach Justin Hertz said. As a freshman, she played sparingly and, as a sophomore, started as a right side hitter because of an injury to a teammate and then returned to a reserve roll once that injury healed. As a junior, she began the season as a hitter before settling into her setting role.
“From freshman year until now, she went from role player, to semi-starter, to starter, to star,” Hertz said.
This season, Migliozzi had 757 assists, an astronomical jump from the 276 she had as a junior. In the playoffs alone this season, she had 211.
“She’s got beautiful hands and a high volleyball IQ,” Hertz said. “She knows the correct set to make at the correct time. She sees the other team well, in order to decide which player she’s going to set at that moment. She has good court vision.”
Migliozzi, who is committed to play volleyball at Adelphi next year, doesn’t see her role as all that complicated.
“Feed the hot hand,” she said. “It doesn’t matter who gets it done that day, as long as it gets done.”
Keeping her teammates positive is another big key to setting success, Migliozzi said.
“Just stay positive,” she said. “If someone shanks a pass, tell them to get the next one. If someone hits the ball into the net, tell them a spot they can hit. Just keep picking people up. If you’re going to be negative toward someone and just keep putting people down, they’re not going to do any better.”
In a sport where runs quickly turn into wins, wins quickly turn into championships, and championships can, in the case of Connetquot, turn in dynasties, that extreme positivity is absolutely crucial.
“This season, the biggest thing she was able to do was keep the calm on the court throughout the season,” Hertz said. “The setter position is sort of like the quarterback in football and, at all times, she was able to stay composed this season.”