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Oct 15, 2019 9:48 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Westhampton Beach Girls Volleyball, Despite Loss, Shows Powerhouse Kings Park Is Vulnerable

Friday's game was in support of Dana Barrett, a Westhampton Beach graduate who suffered a C2 fracture of her spine in a pool accident, resulting in paralysis from the neck down and the inability to breathe on her own. DREW BUDD
Oct 15, 2019 9:48 AM


For years now, Kings Park has been a thorn in the side of many girls volleyball teams, but maybe no more than Westhampton Beach. The Lady Kingsmen have defeated the Lady Hurricanes in five straight county finals, and they seemed set on continuing that trend this season, when they won the first regular season matchup between two powerhouses, 3-0, on September 13, despite Westhampton Beach leading, 19-11, at one point in the first game.

It was that big lead that his team held in the first go-around that led Westhampton Beach head coach Lenny Zaloga to think his team had a good shot at finally beating Kings Park and handing it its first loss of the season on Friday when the teams met back up in Westhampton Beach. While the Lady ’Canes didn’t come through with the overall victory, falling, 3-2, they did hand the Lady Kingsmen their first two game losses of the season.

That, in and of itself, was consolation victory for Zaloga.

“Absolutely. No question. We played really well, and they beat us three straight in, I don’t know how many years, so now we know we can beat them. Now it’s no longer, ‘Oh, I think we can beat them, I hope we can beat them.’ Now they know they can beat them.”

Zaloga pointed to the set scores, 20-25, 21-25, 25-22, 25-21, 20-25, as another reason his players should have been encouraged.

“That’s two mental errors, two service errors, two free-ball errors. So if we make two less errors, then maybe we’re there,” he said.

It looked like Kings Park was going to roll to another three-game win after the first two. Even though the scores were close, it just had the same vibe as in years past. But Westhampton Beach came out firing in the third game, taking a 12-9 lead.

Kings Park bounced back to take a 19-16 lead, but the Lady ’Canes rallied to tie it back up at 21-21, then a key block by sophomore Emmie Koszalka and junior Olivia Jayne gave Westhampton Beach an edge, and it closed out the game on a 4-0 run to hand the Lady Kingsmen their first game loss of the season.

Jayne’s strong serving, and Koszalka’s key kill to give the Lady ’Canes a 24-22 lead in the fourth game, led to another win, forcing a fifth and decisive set. Kings Park came out strong in the final game, though, and never really trailed to take the match.

Senior Michelle Kryl led Westhampton Beach with 15 kills while Koszalka had 12 and junior Jackie Glaser had nine. Kryl also had three aces, tying with Jayne for the team lead. Senior Isabelle Smith had a team-high 34 digs, while senior Lindsay Andreopolous and junior Emma Citarelli had 13. Jayne also had 28 assists to go with 12 digs and her three aces.

The one stat that stood out to Zaloga, however, was the nine blocks his team had on Friday after having no blocks at all the first time it faced Kings Park. Koszalka had six of the team’s nine blocks by herself.

“We learned from the last time they played us and we made some adjustments, such as tip-ins, and then last week we worked a lot on blocking,” he said. “It shows that if we work on it in practice, we can translate it into a game. It’s kind of demoralizing for a team when their best hitter gets blocked.”

Zaloga added that it’s the confidence that Kings Park possesses from winning so much over the years that gives it an edge over his team. Maybe Lady ’Canes got in their heads a little bit on Friday, though?

“They just have that little confidence edge and we probably took it away from them today,” he said. “They still know they can win, they probably still think they should win, but at least now it’s in the back of their head, like, ‘Oh man, they beat us.’”

Friday’s game was played in support of Westhampton Beach graduate Dana Barrett, who played for Zaloga for the program’s only Long Island Championship team in 2007. Barrett, an East Quogue resident who was a solid all-around athlete during her time at Westhampton Beach, suffered a C2 fracture to her spine in a pool accident on June 30, resulting in paralysis from the neck down and the inability to breathe on her own, according to the Gofundme page set up for her. DanaStrong posters and T-shirts could be seen throughout the gym on Friday, and the team donated proceeds to Barrett’s recovery. Currently, $311,683 has been raised for Barrett on Gofundme, two-thirds of the way or so to the goal of $500,000.

To donate and for updates on Barrett’s recovery, go to gofundme.com/f/danabarrettstrong.

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