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Cloudy,32°
Saturday, December 20, 2014
Lady Marines in the mix
Split key matches with Wantagh and South Side
Donovan Berthoud/Herald
Long Beach's Perri Steiner, right, soars over the net for a block during the team's victory at South Side on Oct. 2.

Long Beach’s girls’ volleyball team came away from its toughest week of the season with mixed results, beating defending Nassau Class A champion South Side in four sets after losing to previous three-time defending champ Wantagh in three sets.

“We split, which was OK,” Lady Marines coach Kerri Rehnback said. “Wantagh beat us with its tempo and net play, but we came back and played a strong match against South Side.

“We’re in such a competitive conference,” she added. “The goal is to beat all the teams ranked below us twice, and win some against teams ranked above us.”

After sweeping Hewlett last Friday 25-14, 25-7, 25-21 behind senior libero Dakota O’Neill’s 26 digs to begin the second half of the Conference A-I schedule, the Lady Marines stood at 6-1 with five matches remaining.

O’Neill’s energy goes a long way, Rehnback said, and she also possesses a tremendous jump serve. “Dakota’s aggressive and involved in every play,” she said. “She’s got a low center of gravity and covers a lot of court.”

While O’Neill leads the defense, the offense runs through senior setter Justine Smith. An ankle injury, suffered in practice on the off day — Oct. 1 — between the Wantagh and South Side matches, nearly kept Smith out of the latter. Not only did she suit up, but she dished out 26 assists to lead a 25-23, 25-19, 17-25, 25-23 win over the Lady Cyclones. “Justine was great for us last year, and she picked up where she left off,” Rehnback said. “She manages the offense really well and spreads the ball around.”

In the victory over Hewlett, Rehnback said all of Long Beach’s hitters had 15 attempts or more. Senior Krista Heidenfelder and freshman Gabby Ayzenberg are the starting outside hitters, seniors Perri Steiner and Mary McDonagh comprise the starting middle, and junior Alex Price does damage from the right side.

“We don’t have anyone we count on constantly,” Rehnback said. “We have a balanced attack.”

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