GLENS FALLS, N.Y. — The road to the state tournament for the Pierson/Bridgehampton girls volleyball team started in the summer with three people. Once a week for 10 weeks, coach Donna Fischer hosted a meeting at her home with her only two seniors, captains Olivia Cassone and Samantha Cox. There were packets with quotes, questions to answer and old coaches to interview. The topic was simple.
“To be the best we can be on the court mentally and to help the younger kids while also helping each other,” Cox said. “We learned how to lead.”
Added Cassone: “We had to be the rock of the team and we had to keep them going.”
The duo led the young Pierson/Bridgehampton team to its second state tournament appearance in the past three years but failed to advance out of pool play at the Class C state championship at Cool Insuring Arena on Saturday. The Whalers lost to Portville (25-13, 25-14), Valhalla (25-12, 25-14) and Lake George (25-19, 25-15).
Pierson/Bridgehampton learned that depth and experience weighs heavily in the state tournament. With just two juniors in addition to the senior captains, the Whalers’ depth was further depleted when starting sophomore outside hitter Grace Brosnan went down with an ankle injury in the first game. Fischer noticed her team crumbling.
“I felt like they were a little off today, and I felt like the communication was broken,” Fischer said. “When they made a mistake, instead of encouraging each other and bouncing back, they kind of wigged out.”
The Whalers got to within 8-7 in the first set against Portville, the two-time defending state champion, before Portville reeled off four straight points to force a timeout. Pierson/Bridgehampton would only get as close as five for the rest of the set before Portville closed out on a seven-point streak.
Pierson/Bridgehampton didn’t find success Saturday, but hindsight will be kind to this group. With two state tournament appearances in three years, Cassone and Cox did their part to make sure Whalers volleyball is recognized in New York.
“Olivia and I had the power to help motivate the younger girls and make them want to be on the court and strive to succeed,” Cox said. “Hopefully we have instilled that in them so they can do the same for others in the future.”