Long Beach girls’ volleyball coach Kerri Rehnback was on the verge of calling her first timeout of 2018 with the undefeated Lady Marines trailing Plainview by five points in the second set of Tuesday’s Nassau Class AA final at Farmingdale State College.
“I like to let the girls work through adversity and figure it out themselves,” she said. “They were being challenged.”
The defending champs responded the way Rehnback hoped they would. Top-seeded Long Beach scored six straight points to take a 16-15 lead in the second set and never trailed for the rest of the night on the way to earning a repeat title for the first time in program history.
“I was one point away from a timeout,” Rehnback admitted. “We’ve been down before. Maybe not by five points, but whatever it is I want them to fight through it. I think it builds character.”
Seniors Emma McGovern (23 kills), Grace Rosenberg (23 assists) and Kathleen Verastegui (20 digs) led the charge as the Lady Marines (16-0) stayed perfect on the year with a 25-13, 25-22, 25-3 victory. They’ll battle either defending state champion Connetquot or Commack for the Long Island Class AA crown on Sunday at 7 p.m. at Farmingdale State.
“From the minute we got on the bus after losing the LIC to Connetquot last year, all these girls talked about was getting back and finishing the job,” Rehnback said. “I told them before the third set tonight, ‘you’re 25 points away from doing something no Long Beach team has ever done and that’s repeat as county champs.’
“Now they can focus on trying to win Long Island for the first time,” she added. “That’s been the goal since last year ended.”
Rosenberg put on a serving clinic in the third set after the Lady Marines rallied to avoid dropping their first set all season against a Nassau opponent. After a side-out made it 2-1, she served a remarkable 17 consecutive points, including seven aces, to all but officially slam the door on the third-seeded Lady Hawks.
“She’s a phenomenal jump-server, but I’ve never seen anything like that before,” Rehnback said. “Her serve is so good it forced Plainview out of system. And when Grace wasn’t getting aces, we were able to set up Emma for the kills.”
McGovern drilled four kills during Rosenberg’s service turn. “Emma’s been one of my best friends since Kindergarten,” said Rosenberg, the team’s primary setter who dished out 27 assists in last Friday’s semifinal victory over No. 4 Syosset. “We have a connection that nobody else has,” she added. “We just know where each other is on the court at all times.”
Lexie Correia, Marlene Kramer, Maggie Swegler and Julia Myers chipped in one kill apiece in the third set. Kramer produced the title-clinching point with a block.
“Winning back-to-back counties feels great,” Rosenberg said. “If we bring the same intensity level against Commack or Connetquot, we’ve got it.”