Win Over Sayville Augurs Well for Girls Volleyball

Potential to be one of Kathy McGeehan’s best
Mikela Junemann (7) is East Hampton’s chief hitter, but there are others too. Craig Macnaughton

Joe Vas, East Hampton’s athletic director, has had to deal with fall northeasters and rain in the past, but never so much with the heat.

Heat alerts and modified heat alerts had eaten into practice time and into scheduled play in the season’s first two weeks, he said during a conversation at the high school on Sept. 5, causing, he said, about a half-dozen cancellations. And not just outside activities have been affected, but also inside ones, like swimming and volleyball.

East Hampton’s girls volleyball team snuck a match in with Sayville that morning, before the state declared a full heat alert. East Hampton’s gym is air-conditioned, which leaves Kathy McGeehan, East Hampton’s coach, a bit mystified by the outdoor-indoor ban. “I think if we were scheduled to play in the afternoon, it would have been called off,” she said in reporting the good news the next day that her team had defeated last year’s co-league champions 3-0.

It was the first time, she said, in four years that a team of hers had beaten Sayville, a fellow Class A school — a turnabout that obviously augurs well for East Hampton’s season.

East Hampton’s second league opponent was to have been Westhampton Beach, a perennial Class A power, which shared the league title with Sayville last fall. McGeehan’s girls got a chance to scrimmage with the Hurricanes on Sept. 1, and acquitted themselves well, though there were no officials and scores weren’t kept, she said.

Suffice to say, McGeehan has a strong crew, including 11 returnees, eight of whom are seniors. The East Hampton-Sayville stats pretty much tell the story of the 25-20, 25-18, 25-12 win: 17 service aces, 37 kills, and 40 digs.

Strong serving was the main thing, said McGeehan, inasmuch as “it took Sayville out of its offensive sets and perhaps made our defenders’ jobs a bit easier.”

Offensively, Mikela Junemann, East Hampton’s strong junior outside hitter, led the way with 11 kills, but there were others with putaways too, namely Madyson Neff, a senior outside hitter, who had eight kills, and Erin Decker, also a senior outside hitter, who had seven.

Elle Johnson, the senior setter, who had 37 assists, also had seven service aces. Molly Mamay, a junior defensive specialist who shares the free-roaming libero duties with Zoe Leach, another junior defensive specialist, served six aces. Junemann had two, and Ella Gurney, a senior middle hitter, and Decker each had one.

McGeehan starts three seniors and three juniors, but is carrying a squad of 16 to assure some continuity when her eight seniors graduate. 

Other seniors on the team are Mary McDonald, a senior hitter, Nicole Realmuto, a middle blocker, Claire Hopkins, a defensive specialist and outside hitter, Connie Chan, a setter and defensive specialist, and Julia Kearney, an opposite.

Hannah Hartsough, a sophomore outside hitter and defensive specialist, Faith Fenelon, a freshman setter, Brooke Wittmer, a freshman setter, and Sorrel Miller, a freshman middle and outside hitter, round out the squad.

The team has the potential to be one of the best the veteran coach has ever had.

Westhampton Beach, said McGeehan, while always strong, wasn’t quite as strong as last year, she thought, having lost to graduation two outstanding hitters. 

Lenny Zaloga, the team’s coach, “has a new setter and some good hitters, and Westhampton always has good ball control,” McGeehan said, “but they’re not the team they were. We’re ready for them. We’ve jumped right into it by playing last year’s league champions, but I like it that way.”