SHRUB OAK, N.Y. – Host No. 5 Lakeland defeated No. 12 Peekskill 3-0 (25-15, 25-19, 27-25) in the opening round of the Section 1 Class A Volleyball tournament on Oct. 25, in a match that was much more hard-fought than a sweep would normally indicate.
The win was in stark contrast to Lakeland’s appearance in the first round last year, when they led 2-0 before losing to visiting Yorktown 3-2.
“It feels really nice because, we are more of a team this year and we are connecting and bonding together, which really lets us win,” said Lakeland’s Emily Kubicsko, who recorded a team-high 10 kills.
Hornet coach Steve Fallo said that his team really didn’t talk about what happened last year, instead focusing on the present.
“Last year, different team, different group of kids,” Fallo said. “We just wanted to come out and win three straight. I mean, that was our goal, come out and take care of it in three. We know they (Red Devils) are a much improved team, they are a good volleyball team. They have a terrific libero, they have a net presence with their big girls up front, so we knew that it was going to be a battle.”
Kubicsko closed out the first set by serving the last four points of it.
“I really wanted to like start momentum up for the second and third sets so our team could win,” Kubicsko said.
That momentum was needed as the Hornets were trying to shake off the rust, because of their long layoff.
“We haven’t played in eight days, we were a little rusty,” Fallo said. “We hit a lot of balls out, we did a lot of things that we haven’t been doing, especially at the end of the year. So, it was good just to play and we are happy to move on.”
Tied at 15-15 in the second set, Lakeland took control of that set by winning the final 10 of the 14 points of it.”
Kubicsko added, “We had really good passes and good sets and our hitters were able to close the set.”
In the third set, Lakeland seemed in complete control, up 23-17, before Peekskill rallied to go up 25-24.
Lakeland then tied it before Kubicsko, with an authoritative spike, put the Hornets back up by one, 26-25.
“It felt really nice because it changed the momentum, which let us win,” Kubicsko said.
The Hornets (14-5) sealed the match when two of their players jumped up and blocked a Peekskill shot at the net.
“I think they are comfortable in any situation, they don’t really panic,” Fallo said of his players’ calmness. “I think over the year, we have really gotten to the point where the score doesn’t matter. We always talk about the score being 0-0, no big deal, no moments bigger than the next, and I think it happened here. And we had a situation with Put Valley, same thing happened, almost identical. We had a lead, they tied it up, and it went to like 27-25. We ended up winning because we kept our composure. That’s due to the leadership of girls like Emily Kubicsko, Caitlin Wisker, and the other girls who have been here.”
Wisker (5 kills), Kayla Jennings (5 kills), Victoria Tsui (12 assists), Mariam Elzoghby, Daniella Marazino, Lauren Groccia, Lydia Aryee, Sophia Sommovigo, Emily Milano, Lucy Kemp, Gabby Zadrima and Olivia Berkson, along with Kubicsko, made up the Hornets’ first-round victorious squad.