The swagger and confidence that seniors Erin Herny and Olivia Sherman exude is infectious. Infectious enough to get the entire team to believe no task is too tall to overcome.
Sherman had 17 kills and Henry had eight as Port Jefferson defeated East Rockaway, 25-17, 25-23, 25-19, in the Long Island Class C championship on Thursday night at SUNY-Old Westbury. It is the Royals’ second Long Island championship win in as many years.
“You can never be afraid of the opponent,” Henry said. “We have a shorter team, and they had a couple taller players but we still came out on top.”
“It makes us work harder. We know if we were taller, it would be an advantage,” Sherman said. “People may overlook us on appearance, but we play our hearts out and it pays off in the end.”
Sherman made a big impact early, compiling six kills and pointing to the spot on the court where they would land in celebration.
“It took a while to build this confidence,” Sherman said. “Me and Erin are the oldest on the team and when we bring the excitement, the younger players take after us and it builds up the team.”
Henry came out of the game for a medical timeout, but returned quickly and got back-to-back kills as Port Jefferson took the first set.
East Rockaway held a 23-20 lead in the second set before McKayla Pollard had two consecutive kills. Henry followed with a kill and the Royals scored the final five points as Lina DeLeo closed out the set with a kill.
In the third set, East Rockaway grabbed a 17-14 lead, but Port Jefferson scored five straight and 11 of the final 16 points to take the match. Sherman had three kills during the stretch.
“It feels good to do this with the group we had, we lost a lot of seniors from last year,” Port Jefferson coach CJ Hafner said. “I think Erin and Olivia’s leadership was a big difference for us, because a lot of girls on this team have never played a playoff game.”
Freshman Ava Reilly had 28 assists for Port Jefferson.
Port Jefferson will have a home game against Millbrook (Section IX) in the Southeast Regional final at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
“We will not get embarrassed at home, we can’t, we won’t allow it,” Henry said.
“I think that pushed us to work even harder, to have a game like that at our school, where everyone will be there.” Sherman said. “We’re a very small school and everyone’s close so it would be nice to win in front of everyone.”