Pierson had been on this stage before, but the school’s girls volleyball team had never exited as headliners. It’s time to change the marquee.
No. 2 Pierson defeated No. 1 Stony Brook, 3-1, to win its first Suffolk Class C championship Tuesday night at Suffolk CCC-Brentwood. The Whalers (10-3) lost the first game 25-13 then won the next three, 25-11, 25-19 and 25-13.
“They were nervous,” Pierson coach Donna Fischer said of the opening game. “But I just told them to play like they practice. We worked on our defense and on our front row swinging hard.”
One of those hard swingers was Samantha Cox, who had nine kills and two blocks. She moved from the outside right to the middle for this contest. “We knew that Stony Brook had scouted us against Mercy [in the semifinals] and they saw me on the right,” Cox said. “So I moved to the middle for two rotations every game and it helped.”
Leigh Hatfield and Hannah Tuma each contributed six kills in a balanced offense. The Whalers, who will play the winner of Wednesday’s East Rockaway against Carle Place match for the Long Island Class C title on Saturday at Suffolk CCC-Brentwood, scored 12 consecutive points to take command of the second game and, as it turned out, the match.
“It’s been our goal all season to finally beat Stony Brook. We lost to them during the season and that’s why this means so much,” said Cox, who revealed that the team huddled after the first game and invoked their season-long motto. “We just said, ‘Let’s activate.’ Then we went out and played with energy. We heard their crowd but we like to pretend their crowd is cheering for us.”
Also worthy of applause was eighth-grader Sofia Mancino, the team’s setter, who had 20 assists and nine aces. Before she serves, Mancino likes to spin the ball and slap it hard five times. She was serving during the 12-0 run in Game 2 and also shouts instructions to her teammates. “She is our team leader,” Fischer said.
Fittingly, Cox had put-away winners in both the third and fourth games of the historic final. “This feels absolutely amazing,” she said.