As the defending Nassau Class A volleyball champions, Wantagh had only split its two matches against teams with winning records thus far, and was yet to validate their championship status this season.
Now though with half of their schedule complete, the Warriors finally played up to their potential, and did so by passing their most difficult task of the season Thursday.
Wantagh (6-1) broke a tie with South Side (5-2) atop the Nassau Conference A-I standings by beating the Cyclones on the road in four games, 23-25, 25-11, 25-17, 25-18. Wantagh now sits even with Long Beach for first place in the conference.
"I know the girls are super excited about this," coach Katie McKeefrey said. "They now know what they're capable of."
McKeefrey said the key to the match was her team's communication on the court, something she said just clicked when the Warriors fell behind after the first set.
"We really started playing like a team. Today just had a different feeling," McKeefrey said. "They were constantly talking the whole time, it didn't matter who I put on the court they just played as one. It made a huge difference in their attitude and energy on the court."
Anna Paulick led Wantagh with 10 kills and 10 digs, libero Christina Ellul contributed with 12 digs and setter Carly Simeone had 30 assists.
"[Ellul] was awesome, her passing was just dead on and [Simeone] was just flawless today," McKeefrey said.
South Side, which fell to Wantagh in last year's county championship, was missing two of its top players because of injuries in setter Emma Paris and middle hitter Kayla Principato.
Coach Cheryl Scalice said she was proud of the way sophomores Maya Shabbir and Ashley Detullio stepped in with Paris and Principato out, especially with the intensity of a county final rematch palpable in the gym.
"We had a lot of young kids in there today and I think they did extremely well," Scalice said. "It was their opportunity to experience a high intensity match and it's a good opportunity to lean in that kind of environment which will only help them down the road."