The chants are belted out from the bleachers at Eastport-South Manor, where the girls’ volleyball team shows its vocal support for the boys; or from the bench where fellow Sharks show their own form of teamwork. “E-S-M” is shouted, corresponding to each of the home team’s hits. More often than not, the “M” is loudest because it punctuates yet another winning point for this powerhouse program.
It was as easy as 1-2-3, dig-set-kill, “E-S-M” Wednesday as host Eastport-South Manor blitzed Lindenhurst 25-14, 25-12, 25-15 in a Suffolk boys volleyball contest. “That’s been going on since we were in junior high school,” said Tommy Ogeka (11 kills, two blocks) of the rhythmic cheer. “We appreciate the support from our fans and from the subs doing their part.”
Ryan Byrne (14 kills) said that during matches, he doesn’t really hear the E-S-M chants, a tradition he thought began when the school first opened in 2004, because he is trying to focus on his next shot. But he acknowledged, “It fires us up between points.”
The Sharks (6-0) were in control of all three games, trailing only briefly during the first game and dominating with their defensive digs and put-away shots at the net that produced flurries of unanswered points. “That’s how we take teams out,” said Parker Bachison, who had 32 assists. “As much as I put it up for them, I can’t kill it. Those are the guys who get me the assists. Once we get going, no one can stop us.”
Certainly Lindenhurst (3-2) couldn’t. “We did a good job of spreading the ball around,” Ogeka said. “They didn’t know where the ball was going.”
It was usually going to a place where no Bulldog could return it cleanly. Brennen Brandon contributed seven kills and three blocks and Quinn Foglia had five kills, including the final point of the match, and contributed two blocks. “We were on fire, we didn’t let any mistakes bother us. There was no snowball effect. Even when our subs are in, there’s no pause in our game,” Byrne said. “We’re a very tight team. We’re all friends out of school. We’re pretty stoic and we try to play under control. Confidence is the key.”
So is togetherness. “Our main strength is our cohesion,” coach Bruce Stiriz said. “The communication is there, they know where their teammates are and they trust them. They’re stronger than brothers.”