It never gets old for the Massapequa girls volleyball team.
The Chiefs are perpetual champions of Nassau AA. It’s something you can mark in your books on Day 1 of each passing season. But while titles are expected, that doesn’t mean each victory isn’t just as sweet as the last.
Top-seeded Massapequa defeated a scrappy, powerful Long Beach team, 25-21, 27-25, 25-13, Tuesday night at SUNY Old Westbury, locking up its 17th consecutive county championship.
“It’s been seventeen years of hard work and dedication,” said outside hitter Shannon Brooks, who had 12 kills and nine digs.
Coach CarolAnn Habeeb has been at the helm for all 17. For her, winning is a new experience each year. “It’s their first,’’ she said, “so it’s my first with them.”
While a 3-0 win might indicate dominance, No. 2 Long Beach was far from a pushover. The Marines played admirably in the second and led 12-7 before Massapequa clawed back and took the game. That served as a momentum shift. Jamie Smith, who had a triple-double with 18 assists, 10 kills and 10 digs, said her team adjusted focus after nearly dropping the second.
“I think in that second game we kind of lost sight of what we needed to do on our side of the net,” she said. Overall, Smith said, “Our mental game was rea l ly strong today.”
That all began with Smith, the team’s unquestioned leader and one of the best players on Long Island. She never has a look of panic or desperation, and that rubs off on teammates.
“It’s great to have a team leader just like her,” Brooks said. “She’s well deserving. She worked hard to get to this position.”
Smith contributed to a back line that endured the forceful hits of Gabby Ayzenberg, Paulina Cardona and Emma McGovern. Libero Emilie Marzano had 10 digs and made controlled passes, allowing Smith and Amanda Toole (seven assists) to find hitters like Brooks, Kathleen Doherty (seven kills), Adriana Heimbauer (six) and others.
Equally important was Massapequa’s defense up front, headlined by Heimbauer’s five blocks and Mackenzie Byrne’s three. Ayzenberg had difficulties producing kills because whenever she swung, they were right there to meet her.
“My goal is always just to penetrate the net,” Heimbauer said. “As long as it doesn’t drop on your side, you’re doing a great job.”
A repeat of the complete effort will be needed in the Long Island Class AA championship Saturday at 5 p.m. at SUNY Old Westbury against the winner of Connetquot and Smithtown East. Connetquot beat Massapequa in last year’s final.
For now, the Chiefs said they’re focused on soaking in this county title. After all, there’s a different story behind each one.