“If they can play like that for the rest of the season, we’ll be fine going forward,” East Hampton girls volleyball coach Alex Choi said of his team following a 3-0 sweep of Sayville Friday, October 4.
The Bonackers (7-2 overall, 5-2 in League VI) bested the Golden Flashes 25-18, 25-19, 25-19 behind senior Mikela Junemann’s seven kills and 10 digs; senior Zoë Leach’s 16 digs, three kills, and one ace; senior setter Molly Mamay’s 18 assists, 10 digs, and one kill; and junior Hannah Hartsough’s six kills and 14 digs.
“We played our best game tonight,” Mamay said. “Our energy was constant. We stayed super positive, and we also just had fun.”
East Hampton’s homecoming weekend win started with the Bonackers on a 5-0 run capped off by a Junemann kill and Junemann/sophomore Faith Fenlon (three digs) block. Sayville (4-4, 3-4) struggled to return the ball over the net, and between that and kills by Junemann and Leach, the Bonackers jumped out front 15-5 on another four straight points.
“They played excellent today. They had a lot of fire coming out onto the court,” Choi said. “As long as we got the ball to their side of the net, we were solid. We just need to control our side and let them make the errors.”
The level-headed approach helped the Bonackers break free of a 6-6 tie in the second. After a Junemann kill brought East Hampton within one down 6-5, Sayville made eight errors on an 8-3 run to bring the score to 13-9.
“We wanted to come back stronger than the last time,” Mamay said of a 3-1 (25-20, 25-21, 23-25, 25-22) win over Sayville back on September 9. “We wanted to go in with a brand-new mentality, like it was a brand-new team.”
Choi and Mamay both said they thought the team did a better job at communicating this game.
“We had a connection problem because of our ages, but we have become closer, which has brought the team together,” Mamay said. “All the skills were there, we just needed to become closer, and we didn’t let their attitude affect us. The pace got slow when they had the ball, but we tried to keep it fast so it didn’t mess us up.”
A sophomore Brooke Wittmer ace (two aces, five digs total) made it 16-10, and a Mamay ace made it 20-11. A few Sayville kills and a block kept the Golden Flashes in the set longer than East Hampton would have liked.
The third also remained close to start, but Sayville continued to serve, spike, and pass the ball out of bounds. Hartsough also shined in the set, coming away with three kills, a tip, and an ace. Her second kill followed Junemann’s second to put the Bonackers out front 23-18. Hartsough’s last kill was the set and match-winner.
Mamay said East Hampton had the opportunity to try out some new plays, and said executing kills off those sets felt good.
“It hyped the whole team up,” she said. “Our bench was also loud. That got us excited.”
East Hampton finished 91.8 percent of its serves, making just six errors from the line the entire match.
The Bonackers’ big test will be a regular-season finale thriller against Westhampton (11-2, 5-2) on the road October 21 at 4:30 PM. Both teams are tied in league standings under undefeated Kings Park (8-0, 7-0), and East Hampton came away with a 3-2 win over the Hurricanes in their first matchup of the season September 23 (17-25, 25-15, 24-26, 25-23, 25-17). Junemann had 20 kills in that victory and Mamay had 20 assists. Choi, a first-year head coach, is a Westhampton alumnus.
“Today they were ready to go. They have the physical and mental capacity if they focus on the sport,” Choi said. “And if they stay focused, I think we’ll have no trouble at all.”