Abbey Dummler speaks softly but carries a big swing.
The senior outside hitter electrified the Suffolk girls volleyball scene last fall, using a devastating attack to pave the way for Commack’s first undefeated regular season.
Dummler’s efforts didn’t boost Commack past Connetquot, the eventual state Class AA champions, in the county final, but the Cougars are back on the prowl.
“I think that our performance last year really made it clear that we could do things that we never thought we could,” Dummler said. “We have big goals this year, and it’s exciting to see that all come true, hopefully.”
A strong supporting cast including Emily Haber, Abby Harper and Carly Haegele, among others, puts Commack in Suffolk’s top tier. It’s Dummler that makes the Cougars dangerous, even if her calm, quiet demeanor suggests otherwise.
“She’s like a quiet giant,” said coach Anthony Barone, whose team lost just four sets in the regular season. “When she comes around, her teammates really listen to her. She’s a risk-taker. She’s willing to be assertive and put herself out there. She’s willing to take on any challenges that come along the way.”
Teammates watch Dummler to learn from her, Barone said. A leader by example, Dummler said she’s not afraid to be vocal, too. Whatever it takes to make the team better.
“Abbey doesn’t like to make mistakes,” Barone said. “She’s very much a perfectionist.”
Dummler’s initial love for volleyball came from playing in the backyard with her sisters, but she didn’t begin playing on an organized team until seventh grade. Her rise was swift. Within a few years, she was the libero for her Sportime club team.
Her transition to outside hitter for Commack was “really exciting,” in part because of the challenge of playing a new position. She took it in stride and excelled, picking apart back rows and peppering the court with thunderous kills.
With stiff competition in Suffolk Class AA, Commack needs Dummler’s best. Connetquot graduated six Division I seniors but returns an exciting young core in Kiarra Roth, Diana Migliozzi and Julia Patsos. The Thunderbirds have won two state titles in three years.
Ward Melville and first-year coach Haley Blunt figure to be in the hunt, while Barone mentioned Sachem East and Patchogue-Medford as teams that could also be threats. Smithtown West also boasts a solid roster, while Connetquot still has plenty of talent.
In what’s shaping up to be one of the best races in recent memory, Commack is the team poised to make the most noise.
“I really think all eyes are on us this year,” Barone said.
For now, the Cougars will speak softly and let their play do the talking.
New Kings Park coach Luis Sepulveda is hoping to deliver the Kingsmen’s eighth consecutive county championship. Setter Carly Estherson, sophomore Liv Benard and senior Lauren Weir give Kings Park firepower. It’ll face competition from Sayville, Westhampton and others.
The road through Class B goes through Glenn, winners of 17 of the last 18 county titles. Bayport-Blue Point will provide a stiff challenge, but Glenn’s Mia Cergol is one of the best in Suffolk.