The Long Beach boys volleyball team thrives when it stays within its own system. Libero Eddie Roesch is the one who keeps the Marines in that system.
Roesch, who said he was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis in June 2016, was one of the team’s many stars on Thursday as Long Beach topped previously undefeated Massapequa, 25-17, 20-25, 25-22, 25-17, in a Nassau A-I match.
The boys and girls teams scheduled a doubleheader to raise money for cystic fibrosis, and Roesch said the plan is to donate the proceeds to a variety of foundations.
“It feels good because everyone’s just doing what they can do donate to the cause,” said Roesch, who played in front of a roaring crowd that included his mom, dad and two sisters. “It just makes you feel a lot better.”
Backing the Roesch, who had 15 digs, were fellow seniors Sammy Gibson and Chris Scandole. Gibson had 15 digs, 14 kills and five aces and said Roesch is the team’s backbone.
“It means the world to us to beat Massapequa,” he said. “Eddie’s been our friend and we’ve been playing this sport since we’ve been in seventh grade. He goes out and performs every time he steps on the court.”
Scandole said the key to beating Massapequa was staying within their system. The Chiefs boast a big middle block, headlined by Timmy Drake. The Marines had to focus on hitting at the pins and making controlled passes.
“We were serving tough,” said Scandole, who had 13 digs and 10 kills. “We kept them out of system. We didn’t let them use their middles. We played our game as opposed to their game.”
In improving to 7-1 in conference play, Long Beach has solidified itself as a bona fide contender along with Massapequa and Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK. The latter two teams have been the focal point of Nassau Class A for most of recent history.
“Nassau volleyball, the story’s been written,” Gibson said. “It’s Massapequa and Plainview every single year. It’s such an honor to fight with these programs. We’re definitely not discounting Plainview yet with their two losses, but focusing on what we’re doing, it’s fantastic to be a part of.”
Roesch admitted that other programs “never saw Long Beach as a threat to win counties” before this season, but now the Marines are out to change the narrative.
Coach Bill Gibson summed up the win, and Roesch’s importance to the triumph, best: “We played one match without Eddie this year, and it was a struggle not having him on the court. He is the catalyst.”