To grab a big win Wednesday night, Long Beach had to contend with a huge front line.
Luc Esformes and Sam Gibson were up to the challenge, as both had 14 kills to lead Long Beach to a five-set win over host West Hempstead in a Nassau A-I/B-I crossover boys volleyball match. Chris Scandole added 35 digs for the Marines, which won, 23-25, 25-19, 25-22, 22-25, 25-18.
“We have a lot of respect for West Hempstead and we understand that they have a lot of seniors that are really powerful,” Gibson said. “This is one of the best blocking teams in the county.”
The win keeps Long Beach (8-5) in play for the No. 3 seed in the Class A playoffs ahead of Friday’s pivotal match against Port Washington, which is currently in third place.
“That’s going to be really important for seeding, so it was good to get this game, gain some momentum and go into our next game strong,” Esformes said.
Before the Marines turned their focus to Port Washington though, they had to contend with Zion Spruill and West Hempstead’s dominant front.
“The challenge is that they’re just huge,” said Esformes, who moved from outside hitter to the middle to help the team’s blocking. “That meant we really had to focus on our timing.”
“We know we couldn’t play with them on the net, so we were trying to serve aggressively and keep them out of system, so they couldn’t run their offense at the net,” coach Bill Gibson said. “As far as our offense, we were trying to make sure we stayed in system so that we could get away from their gigantic blockers.”
Spruill still had a strong day, racking up 14 kills and five blocks, while Seiji Clark added 50 assists for West Hempstead (10-5).
The Marines were able to get the job done in crunch time, though, jumping out to a 17-9 lead in the fifth set. West Hempstead fought back to cut the visitors’ lead to 18-15, but that was the closest the Rams would get, as the Marines won seven of the final 10 points to close the match.
“Our serving and our passing really helped us out,” Sam Gibson said. “Those are usually the first things that fall apart first when your nerves get high.”
“We were a little shaky in the middle of that fifth set,” Esformes added, “but we finished strong which is always important.”