Olivia Jayne may be new to the varsity team, but she’s setting a good example.
The sophomore setter came up with 25 assists, nine aces, and three digs during Westhampton Beach’s shutout of Amityville on the road October 13, 25-23, 25-13, 25-9.
She had a handful of aces during a 10-point scoring streak in the third set. Jayne was at the service line for seven of them as the Hurricanes (10-2 overall, 7-1 in League VI) went up 10-1, limiting the Colts to fewer and fewer points with each set.
“She’s on a very nice trajectory to get better and better,” head coach Lenny Zaloga said. “At the beginning of the travel season last year, she almost couldn’t serve over the net, and now her serving is nice and low and straight. She serves a hard, flat ball.”
Jayne said she’s taken her role seriously, replacing a junior that left the team at the beginning of the season.
“I had a few double touches — I was making mistakes — so I was nervous, but we pulled through,” she said. “A few of my serves were nail-biters that just rolled over the net, but you have to find their weakest passer, and that was working for me.”
Senior outside hitter Cortina Green (14 kills, five digs) picked up two of her kills for Westhampton during the third-set spurt.
“She’s definitely our best hitter,” Zaloga said of his captain. “She’s got a weak ankle right now so she’s a little tentative with what she does, but when she’s healthy, she’s really good.”
Amityville was up 15-10 and 20-15 during the first set, and spikes from Green and junior Juliette Seeglier (nine digs, six kills, six aces) helped Westhampton tie the set 23-23 before Seeglier scored the final point to put it away.
“We were not very aggressive, but we picked it up,” Zaloga said of the 8 AM road match. “It is an early game, but we have more experience than they do, and long rallies favor us. We understand that we don’t have to hit everything hard. If we get in trouble, we don’t have to score a point on a bad ball. We can give them the ball and eventually get a better swing.”
After the Hurricanes came out on the winning side of a 3-2 match against Amityville October 1, the team’s main objectives were to control the serve and double up on Amityville’s top hitters Victoria Erwat and Mary Dexter.
“We moved our defense around to counter them, and it worked most of the time, but we still have to get that together for when we play better teams,” Jayne said. “They’re a weaker team and we were playing down to their level. We need to start off stronger so that doesn’t happen to us, but we are very resilient and we bounced back well.”
The girls said they felt they had something to prove after a 3-1 nonleague loss to Bayport-Blue Point October 5 that put a stop to a six-match win streak. Libero Belle Smith (31 digs, four aces) was absent from the match, which Zaloga said was a big blow to his team.
“She’s fantastic,” he said. “We probably lost 30 digs that game without her.”
Green controlled the tempo, kept her team in check and ensured they were on the same page with each play, and especially felt the need to do so after the Hurricanes lost a ton of seniors to graduation last year.
“We’ve been struggling with serving and defense, so it was good to pick up their tips and really push to get every ball up and over the net,” she said. “With a new, very young and less experienced team, seniors have had to step up to a lot of important positions.”
The team’s only other loss was to senior-laden No. 1 East Hampton (9-0 in League VI) back on September 12. The Hurricanes faced Sayville (7-5 in League VI) October 15, but results were not available by press time. Westhampton narrowly edged the Golden Flashes 3-2 on September 21, the team’s only other match decided in five sets.
“We were disconnected during our losses, so it’s been nice to see us come out as a team and really communicate and get some good plays in,” Green said. “I think that last loss was a turning point. It proved we have to step it up and come together each time we hit the court. I think we’re getting there, and I’m happy to say that.”