A matchup between two unbeatens tied at the top of Nassau BC-I lived up to the hype.
Roughly six weeks before the girls volleyball postseason is scheduled to begin, Seaford and host Mineola played last night in what could only be described as a playoff atmosphere. The home crowd roared for every point, but the Vikings were able to edge out a 3-1 (25-22, 26-28, 25-16, 25-21) victory in a possible preview of the conference final.
“In the beginning I think they were getting in our heads more than they were pumping us up,” said libero Ally Palermo of the Mineola fans. “We went into a team huddle and just said to ignore it. That’s how playoffs are. We have to get used to it.”
Backed by Sophie Dandola’s 19 kills, 15 digs and nine aces, Seaford (7-0) was up to the task. The returning member of Newsday’s All-Long Island first team attacked the Mustang defense with her vicious swing and difficult-to-return serve.
Of course, given the intensity, her overwhelming power got the best of her from time to time.
“I think my adrenaline was going, so on a couple of them, I got too excited and just went all out — like 150 percent,” Dandola said of a few serves and kill attempts that went considerably long. “But overall I think I did pretty well.”
The tension was palpable early as the sides traded leads five times in the first set before the Vikings secured a 25-22 win. The second was more frenzied, as another five lead changes led to a 28-26 win for the Mustangs.
Mineola (6-1) setter Tori Ondris was integral in the second, as she assisted four of her team’s last five points. She had 30 assists in the match, several of which went to Sam Schroeder, who had 16 kills.
Tied 1-1, the match had all the makings of a five-set thriller. But Seaford used eight aces in the third to win 25-16, and Dandola’s eight kills in the fourth sealed the set, 25-21, and the match, 3-1.
Palermo had 16 digs, and Melanie Cascio had 30 assists. Ashley Soliwoda was a force in the middle with nine kills and three blocks.
“We’re not going to take anyone lightly,” said Dandola. “We’re definitely going to play them again (on Oct. 28) and if we play them in the playoffs, it will be just like this.”
Or maybe even louder.