When the Wheatley girls volleyball team dropped its opening match of the season to Oyster Bay, coach Tom Greeley told his team it was a reality check of how everything would have to be earned.
After it settled in, the host Wildcats proceeded to create a new reality. One where they wouldn’t lose the rest of the way.
Outside hitter Kayla Gray and middle Lauren Hackett led the way on Wednesday night, as Wheatley put the finishing touches on a 10-game winning streak, defeating Oyster Bay in the Nassau Class B final, 25-11, 25-23, 17-25, 25-16.
"Our first match wasn’t our best," Gray said. "But after that we learned what to fix and what to work on. We improved greatly and energy is a big thing."
Following the opener, Hackett said the Wildcats sensed that another meeting with Oyster Bay could ultimately determine the county champion.
"We realized that we needed to work hard on every single set and that we would come back to facing this team in the end," Hackett said. "So we really made sure to prepare."
Gray had nine kills and five digs, and Hackett recorded six kills and two aces.
After controlling the majority of the opening set, Wheatley notched the final two points of a tightly-contested second game to take a 2-0 lead. Oyster Bay led throughout the third set and closed to within 2-1, but the Wildcats moved ahead 20-11 in a strong performance in the final set before closing the victory.
"We just had to bring our energy back up after that third game," Gray said. "And it really worked out for us."
Following a 3-12 campaign and a loss in the 2019 final, Hackett and the Wildcats continued to set their sights on finishing off this year with a title.
"I’m just so thankful for everything," Hackett said. "Our team had a lot of trouble last year. But this year we brought it all together and we did amazing. I think this year we were really able to come together and we really wanted to win the county championship."
Greeley said last season provided a similar lesson as the season-opener.
"Last year was also kind of a nice reality check and it really made us strive for it even more," Greeley said. "Our girls persevered throughout the season, worked hard and they brought it."