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Girls volleyball state championship preview

Long Beach's Grace Rosenberg sets the ball against

Long Beach's Grace Rosenberg sets the ball against Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK in the Nassau Class AA girls volleyball final at Farmingdale State on Nov. 6, 2018. Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Long-time streaks were broken in this year’s Long Island girls volleyball championships, as Classes AA and A will send first-time participants to the state semifinals in Glens Falls this weekend.

Long Island will send four teams to Cool Insuring Arena for pool play on Saturday. Teams that finish in the top two of four in their respective pools will compete Sunday in state championship matches.

Below is a preview of each of Long Island’s four representatives.

CLASS AA: Long Beach

One of the most aggressive teams on Long Island, the Marines can go on serving runs that can completely change the landscape of a match. Grace Rosenberg served 17 straight points in the third set of the Nassau Class AA championship against Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK with her devastating jump serve, and there are others who also are potent from the service line.

That aggressiveness trickles into its offense. Emma McGovern swung a mind-boggling 104 times in Long Beach’s five-set win over Commack, registering 36 kills. Rosenberg will swing at two-balls, and a stable of other hitters can make the Marines dangerous.

This can also be a detriment if Long Beach doesn’t execute. The Marines led 2-0 against Commack before errors -- coupled with Commack’s defense -- brought the Cougars back into the match. Commack had unseated Connetquot, the three-time defending Long Island champions, in the Suffolk final.

Long Beach needs to play cleanly in pool play to have a shot to make the final.

CLASS A: Wantagh

Wantagh trailed 2-0 to Kings Park, the seven-time defending Long Island Class A champion, but came back to win in a five-set thriller. Grace Riddle had 19 kills, including the hammer for the final point.

The Warriors are well-equipped to compete in Glens Falls. Riddle leads a stable of strong hitters that includes Tori Spencer, Katie Steele, Emily Van O’Linda and Julia Pugliese. Jill Laino is a rock at libero, and Kayla Rende is a consistent setter.

Inexperience on the big stage is certainly a factor here for Wantagh, as is the overall competition in Class A from upstate schools. For as many talented teams as Kings Park has had during its stranglehold on Class A, the Kingsmen never won a state championship.

Luckily for Wantagh, Westchester’s Walter Panas – winner of the last two state Class A crowns – won’t be making a trip back to the semis.

CLASS B: Bayport-Blue Point

Bayport-Blue Point is back in the state semifinals for the first time since 2016. Coach Toni Mulgrave said her team won’t be in awe like they were two years ago.

Mulgrave would be the first to say the Phantoms didn’t play to their ability against Wheatley in the Long Island Class B championship, but that bodes well for them moving forward. If there’s more left in the tank, now’s the time to show it.

Cathleen Farrell is a dangerous outside hitter, while Isabella Imbo, Shannon Carey and others can pick up the slack when needed. The Phantoms also serve very well, totaling 16 aces against Wheatley.

Long Island hasn’t won a state Class B championship since Glenn won back-to-back in 2011-12, an example of how strong teams are from that classification upstate.

CLASS C: Mattituck

Mattituck’s Viki Harkin is a dangerous hitter.

Her leaping ability allows her to see the court and hit over blockers, and Mattituck coach Frank Massa wants her to swing every chance she gets. Libero Jordan Osler kickstarts the offense for Harkin, and the two work together seamlessly.

Long Island hasn’t had a state Class C champion since the state transitioned to a five-class format in 2004. Glenn won a Class C title in 2003 in the four-class format.

Weekend Schedule

Saturday, Nov. 17 — Pool play

Class AA, 8:30 a.m.: Long Beach, Pine Bush, Victor, Shenendehowa

Class A, 3 p.m.: Wantagh, Cornwall, Niagara Wheatfield, Burnt Hills

Class B, 8:30 a.m.: Bayport-Blue Point, Owego, Westhill, Broadalbin Perth

Class C, 3 p.m.: Mattituck, Voorheesville, Portville, Millbrook

Sunday, Nov. 18 — Finals

Class AA, noon: Teams TBD

Class A, 2 p.m.: Teams TBD

Class B, noon: Teams TBD

Class C, 2 p.m.: Teams TBD

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