Three of the top girls volleyball players in Nassau are returning members of Newsday’s All-Long Island teams. Each will prove crucial to their teams:
Jamie Smith, Massapequa, Sr.
Arguably the most well rounded player on Long Island, Smith is the catalyst for a Massapequa team hoping to get back to the state championship tournament.
The reigning Newsday Nassau Player of the Year is a methodical setter who combines good instincts with nearly perfect ball placement. She’s also a weapon as a right side hitter when the Chiefs need offense.
“I think it’s good to be versatile, especially because I can play two positions,” Smith said. “If I’m not able to help in a certain position, and we need help somewhere else, I can help.”
As a junior, Smith racked up 221 assists, 136 kills and 66 digs, while also converting 92 percent of her serves. The Chiefs, who are looking for their 17th consecutive Nassau AA crown, will look to the lefty for similar production.
Smith plans to play volleyball in college and is weighing several offers.
Sophie Dandola, Seaford, Sr.
You won’t find a girl on Long Island who strikes the ball harder than Sophie Dandola.
Her right arm makes defenders cringe as it winds and demolishes sets. She combines both power and placement, finding holes in the defense.
A returning member of last year’s Newsday All-Long Island first team, the outside hitter led the team last year with 313 kills while chipping in 110 blocks on defense.
Nassau teams will certainly try to gameplan around her hitting, but Dandola thinks Seaford as a whole will be a strong unit.
“I think (Nassau) should be worried about Seaford as a team because we’re going to be very good and focused this whole year,” she said.
Despite her volleyball talents, Dandola plans to attend Hofstra and play softball.
Jillian Graham, Wantagh, Sr.
Consistency is key for Jillian Graham, a returning member of Newsday’s All-Long Island second team and one of the top outside hitters in Nassau.
She credits consistency and her ability to stay calm for much of her success. A level-headed approach could prove crucial to the Warriors’ success this fall, especially after losing to Kings Park in last season’s Long Island Class A Championship.
“I think our end goal is to get to states,” she said. “We’re definitely a different team, but it’s going to be a strong season.”
Graham does a little of everything, contributing with kills, blocks, digs and serves. She’s a complete weapon for Wantagh and said she is currently weighing several collegiate options for volleyball.