Senior’s 29 slams send volleyball team to Long Island championship

Harkin Kills It In Mattituck’s Class C County Final Win

Outside hitter Viki Harkin is what is referred to in volleyball as a five-tool player. The senior can spike, pass, set, serve, and even tip. On Monday, her 29 kills and four aces helped her Mattituck girls volleyball team to a 3-2 win over last year’s Long Island championship-winning Pierson/Bridgehampton for the Suffolk County Class C title.

What motived Harkin was a story head coach Frank Massa told the girls about his 2004 11-1 league championship-winning Tuckers, who lost to Port Jefferson in the county final after beating their opponent 3-0 during the regular season.

“I had that in the back of my head like, ‘We can’t be that team. We have to push above that team,’ and we did, and it feels really good,” Harkin said smiling, adding she felt the pressure after Pierson won the third and fourth sets to force a decisive fifth, the Tuckers’ first of the year. “It was nerve-wracking, but we had some amazing saves and everyone was hustling to the ball.”

Massa closed his eyes each time his outside hitter leapt up to the net at Shoreham-Wading River High School November 5, waiting for what he knew was going to come.

“I love listening to her,” he said. “I close my eyes and you can hear her hand pound on the ball. She’s a violent hitter — it’s a beautiful thing.”

The top-seeded Mattituck team looked to be heading toward an easy win when it went up 2-0 after 25-17, 25-15 wins in the first two sets, but the Whalers (13-3) had a weapon at the service line in setter Sofia Mancino. Pierson won the last 12 points of the 25-15 third set, which included 11 consecutive service points by the hard-hitting freshman. Mancino finished with 28 assists and four aces. The teams stayed tight in the fourth, and Mattituck’s Dominique Crews came up with a big block to bring her team within one point, 24-23, but the Whalers prevailed.

The pressure was on for Mattituck, coming in as the undefeated League VIII champs (15-2 overall, 12-0 in conference play), but Harkin was ready to get back in the swing of things.

“I know no matter what I’m going to kill that ball,” she said. “I love getting those kills. When we get those big ones we’re at our peak.”

The Tuckers took a 9-1 lead in the final set off two Harkin kills, a Harkin tip, a Rachel Janis block, and a Pierson out-of-bounds serve, a problem that plagued the Whalers through most of the match.

“We knew we couldn’t let them get a big lead — once a team’s up by that much it’s really hard to come back,” Harkin said. “They have good hitters, but they also miss-hit the ball, so you never quite know where it’s going.”

Libero Jordan Osler said Harkin has an eye for finding the ball though, before anyone else does.

“She can see where the ball is going before it even gets over the net.” Osler said. “She’s incredible — a great volleyball player.”

The junior, who finished with 17 digs and four aces, competed alongside her sister on last year’s team that lost to Elwood-John Glenn 3-0 in the Class B final, and drew on her for her own motivation.

“I know she wanted it so badly, we all did,” Osler said. “I had her in the back of my mind the entire time because my sister is the one who got me into volleyball, she’s the one who made me the player I am today. Volleyball is my favorite thing in the world. I love being out here on the court, especially with these girls. This couldn’t get any better.”

Mattituck will face the winner of Nassau County’s No. 1 East Rockaway-No. 2 Oyster Bay matchup in the Long Island championship November 11 at Farmingdale State College at 1 PM.

desiree@indyeastend.com