Ward-Melville defeated Massapequa 3-0 Tuesday to secure their 7th Long Island Class AA Girls Volleyball Championship. Set scores were 25-16, 25-17, and 25-21.
Emily Astarita had 17 kills and 19 digs, Kellie Rizzo had 37 assists, and Kristin Bendy had 13 kills, 11 digs and 2 blocks.
Ward Melville Coach Charlie Fernandes said his team plays as a unit; knock one girl down and the others step right up. "If there's something special about this group, it's that they love each other," he said. "Even the freshmen step up. Alex Stein is 13 years old and she probably had 6 or 7 kills. Even just keeping tough balls in play for a kid of that age."
Defense was key in their winning strategy against Massapequa, said Fernandes. "If we can play defense, we know we're going to do well because we can block and hit pretty well."
Ward Melville middle Courtney Cleary said it was an exhilarating game as her team faced a formidable challenge from Massapequa."We got our block up and we serve-received so well today," she said. "They were fighting back really hard at us and they put their best game out there."
Massapequa Coach Carol Ann Habeeb-Kiel said her team played their game too late, and suffered as a result. "My team plays better than this, but I'm not going to take anything away from Ward Melville, they're a good team, they're strong, they're tall; it's just that we didn't come out and play our game right from the beginning."
Ward Melville will go to the State Finals in Glens Falls this weekend. Coach Hernandes said his team will take it easy until Thursday to recover from four straight days of grueling competition. "We'll get some information on the other teams and we'll probably talk about strategy and maybe do some walk-through things," he said.