For the Massapequa boys volleyball team, senior outside hitter Nick Bianco is a quiet leader.
“He’s really calm,” first-year coach Elissa DiSalvo said. “He just has a very calm demeanor and goes out and does what we ask him to do. He’s a really good role model and a natural athlete.
"He’s not the biggest kid at about 6-2, but he just has physical gifts that many other players lack. I think he just has the ability to constantly go, there’s no hesitation. His ability to differentiate when to go and when not to go is great. It’s not very often that he takes a play off.”
Bianco's calming influence is also a factor in the team’s success. The Chiefs will look to build upon last season’s loss to Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK in the Nassau Class A final.
“We gear our minds every day in practice that if we play our game we should have no problems,” Bianco said. “We try to stay calm because if we get too hyper and act out, we tend to play down to the other team’s level. So if we just stay calm we know we can take care of the game.”
It will be a season of transition for the Chiefs, who went 12-4 last season. DiSalvo is in her first season as the varsity coach after serving as the junior varsity coach and a varsity assistant in past seasons. Bianco said the team’s familiarity playing for DiSalvo during her junior varsity and varsity assistant coaching tenures will play a key role this season.
“Having that familiarity helps so much," he said. "She’s basically raised us as volleyball players since we started playing. Being able to grow with her has made the experience much more fun and we always have a positive attitude playing.”
DiSalvo’s presence gives Bianco plenty of confidence that the Chiefs can claim another county title after winning it in 2017.
“I feel that our team has a very strong chance at winning counties,” Bianco said. “Mainly because we’ve worked with [DiSalvo] for many years and we’ve just been listening and growing with her as players. And we have great team chemistry."
The core of the team features setter Aiden Gregory, outside hitter Vinny Colucci and Bianco. Gregory said the team's goal is a state title.
“We’ve spoken about our expectations and we’re all set on winning a state title,” Gregory said.
“Aidan has a very calm presence as well,” DiSalvo said. “Not a lot ruffles his feathers. Vinny Colucci, he’s a gamer, probably one of the most competitive players I know. He radiates his competitive nature onto other players.”
In order to reach their goal, Gregory echoed DiSalvo’s message and emphasized that the Chiefs must stick to their brand of volleyball.
“Our brand of volleyball is staying disciplined,” Gregory said. “It’s really the little things that matter. I feel like when people think of it from an outside perspective, they think you have to be the biggest kid on the court that swings down. You don’t. It’s just the little things that matter.”