Johnson Assists In Total Team Win

East Hampton outside hitter Madyson Neff (11 receptions, five kills) spikes the ball through a blocker’s arms. Independent/Desirée Keegan

Elle Johnson can set, serve, and score.

The senior setter tallied 29 assists and four aces to lead East Hampton to a 3-0 sweep of Rocky Point October 8. The Bonackers remain undefeated — 9-0 overall and 8-0 in League VI — with the 25-14, 25-9, 25-25-19 win.

“I love being out there and playing with these girls,” Johnson said. “They’re the best team that I’ve played with, and I love having a part in something special like this.”

The setter scored the first three points for East Hampton, the third being her first ace, and set up play after play during the Bonackers’ back-and-forth point-swapping until her team was ahead 20-10. The Eagles battled back to score four straight points, but East Hampton earned five straight with junior outside hitter Mikela Junemann grabbing the last two service points to close out the set.

Junemann, who lead the team with seven kills and added four aces, said she was happy to see her team bring the energy after coming out slow in a tournament at Elwood-John Glenn over the weekend.

“We didn’t have a lot of momentum during our tournament, so today we picked up the pace and we brought some energy to the court,” she said. “We communicated well. If there’s no talking, it’s just chaos.”

Junemann picked up a handful of her kills in a strong second set for East Hampton. Johnson also continued to being her “A” game, helping the team to five straight points with a stellar showing from the service line and tipping the ball at the net to put the Bonackers ahead 9-2.

East Hampton head coach Kathryn McGeehan liked what she saw from both of her players.

“Elle had a great match — had a high number of assists,” she said. “I thought Mikela stayed aggressive.”

The team took part in a balanced attack, with Ella Gurney grabbing six kills and outsider hitter Madyson Neff earning five. Neff lead the team with 11 receptions and libero Molly Mamay had eight and added 13 digs. Gurney also grabbed two blocks.

“We did well blocking and covering at the net, picking up tips, which is something that we’ve been working on a lot,” Johnson said. “We tend to pick up the harder hits a little bit better than the tips.”

The Bonackers have also been adding some new sets to their repertoire, and executed a few of them during the match, switching up their attack at the net and coming ready for every type of receive. Rocky Point made East Hampton work for every point in the last set though, as the Eagles led 5-3 and 12-8 during the third set, forcing the Bonackers to bounce back to tie the game four separate times, taking the first lead of the set at 14-13.

“They’re willing and ready to keep learning,” McGeehan said. “That’s a good sign for a team that’s already successful. They were hustling, and I think our middles did a great job and our outsides. We had a lot of kills coming out of the right side. Even though we had a some really tough service errors in set one — missing four in a row — we were able to get back on track.”

While the pressure has been mounting on East Hampton to remain undefeated, it was never a goal the girls set out to achieve. The head coach said the success of the team has been a testament to the senior leadership and off-season and pre-season work.

“I think they’re right where they need to be in terms of cohesiveness — we see it on and off the court,” McGeehan said. “This time of the year people start to think about the postseason, and we don’t want to do that. We want to be in the moment, stay present, and keep competing. We didn’t have any expectations in terms of the finish. We were more concerned about the process.”

Remaining focused, battling for every point, bringing a positive energy, and focusing on their side of the court is what has helped the Bonackers come this far. Johnson agreed with her coach, saying she only sees good things to come if East Hampton keeps its steady pace. The Bonackers travel to Amityville October 11 at 4 PM before taking on Islip October 17 at 5 PM.

“Taking it one step at a time is the way it will work for our team,” Johnson said. “We’re going to remain humble and play our game. We’re going to continue this run and follow through. I’m confident.”

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