The Wantagh girls volleyball program has captured the last three Nassau County Class A titles but will be facing some stiff competition in its quest for a four-peat.
One Conference A team expected to be a major threat toward Wantagh’s championship aspirations is Long Beach and on Thursday evening the Lady Marines proved their toughness with a three-set win against the Warriors. Thursday's loss at Long Beach by set scores of 25-18, 25-21 and 25-22 was Wantagh's first regular season Conference A setback since 2009.
Wantagh entered Thursday's match at 4-0 in Conference A and head coach Katie McKeefrey said she hopes losing in straight sets will serve as a wake-up call going forward.
"They just can't go through the motions and expect to win," said McKeefrey, whose team entered the 2012 season as the top seed in Conference A-1. "This will hopefully serve as a learning experience."
Long Beach, which entered the season ranked fourth in the conference, pulled off Thursday's upset over the three-time reigning county champions on the strength of solid play at the net led by nine kills from senior co-captain Katherine Myers. The Lady Marines (4-1) were also solid on serves with Justine Smith registering four aces to go along with 27 assists.
Long Beach head coach Kerri Rehnback said beating a powerhouse team like Wantagh will serve as a major confidence boost for the rest of the season.
"This was a huge win for us," said Coach Rehnback following Thursday's victory before an enthusiastic home crowd in the Long Beach High School Gymnasium. "We did a lot of training to be prepared mentally and physically for matches like these."
Other teams besides Long Beach predicted to challenge Wantagh's three-year county title streak are Bellmore-Kennedy and South Side, who the Lady Warriors edged in five sets for the 2011 championship.
Wantagh is led in 2012 by senior co-captains Carly Simeone and Anna Paulik, who both played on the Club Ace Long Island team at Hofstra University this past summer. The Lady Warriors will try and get back on the winning track this Tuesday at home against neighborhood rival Bellmore-Kennedy starting at 4:45 p.m.