With the excitement building as the lead continued to grow, the Pierson/Bridgehampton girls volleyball team had to remember the Four C’s.
“We like to say, ‘calm, cool, confident and collected,’ ” said Leigh Hatfield, a senior at Pierson. “Even though we may be riding a high, we have to stay humble, stay modest and play like every game’s a normal game.”
This was far from normal, though, as the Whalers were playing for their first Long Island Class C championship in program history. Despite dropping the opening set, the Whalers rebounded for a 23-25, 25-21, 26-24, 25-13 win over East Rockaway Saturday afternoon at SCCC-Brentwood.
The Whalers will play in the state tournament beginning next Saturday at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
Hatfield’s 12 kills paced a well-balanced offense that received contributions from Hannah Tuma (six kills), Celia Barranco (four) and Samantha Cox (four). Sofia Mancino, an eighth grader at Pierson Middle High School, had 26 assists.
“We’re all super pumped, super proud of ourselves,” Mancino said. “I’m so grateful to be playing on this varsity team with these amazing players.”
The Whalers (11-3) controlled the opening set, 18-11, until East Rockaway’s blistering 7-0 run tied the score at 18 apiece. Pierson led again until 23-23, at which point East Rockaway’s Jamie Keegan and Brooke DeGuilio ended the set with consecutive kills.
Trailing 1-0 isn’t new to Pierson, who also trailed against Stony Brook in the county final before winning the next three sets.
“I think we just need a set to get into the game and really get motivated,” said Cox, a sophomore at Pierson.
“Even though we lost the first set, I thought we played so hard,” Hatfield said. “It was a little bit of nerves, but losing the first set just fuels us to win the next three.”
And although the East Rockaway (8-9) continued to chip away at Pierson’s leads throughout the next three sets, the Whalers continued their attack. With each passing point in the fourth set, the title seemed inevitable. Hatfield helped keep the Whalers focused.
“We get so excited, but I have to remind my teammates that we’re still playing and to be ready for the next ball.”
Tuma’s final kill was after a hard-fought volley, but when it hit the hardwood, the Pierson side erupted. Several players had joyful tears streaming down their faces.
Now they can add another “C” word to their saying: champions.