The fall has been a banner season at South High. While the girls’ soccer team was dominating opponents on its way to claiming Long Island supremacy for the first time in program history, the boys’ volleyball team was making some memories of its own in the gymnasium.
With a 25-23, 25-22, 25-10 sweep of host Hewlett, the Falcons clinched the Nassau Conference B-III title on Oct. 23. Shawn Leyesa had 15 kills and 10 digs to lead South. Setter Brian Decopain had 26 assists and four service aces.
South, which finished with an overall record of 15-2, saw its season come to a halt with a loss to Clarke in the opening round of the playoffs.
Experience and chemistry were keys to the championship. “Some of the boys were four-year varsity players,” South coach Rich Hess said. “They knew what it took to win tight matches. Through their years playing together, they developed tremendous mental toughness. They had pride every time they took the floor for matches or practice. It was important to them.”
Leyesa, who earned All-County Honorable Mention recognition, was the entire package. The senior captain recorded more than 200 kills for the season, including a season-high 24 in a five-set victory at Sewanhaka. Leyesa was also very effective from behind the service line.
Volleyball teams are rarely successful without solid setting. Decopain’s intelligence on the court was second to none. His great hands and sound decision-making enabled the Falcons offense to run like a well-oiled machine. Decopain, who served as one the team’s tri-captains, earned the league’s Unsung Hero award.
Captain Steven Lopeck rarely left the court. The senior outside hitter was a consistent, all-around player who could rattle off a string of aces or score at the net. Fellow senior David Huang was the team’s best server and was terrific at serve receive. Senior Wayne Chen set the tone on defense from the back row.
Eddy Alexandre was a beast in the middle. The 6-foot-4 senior was also credited with over 200 kills. Alexandre, who earned All-League honors, had an eye-popping 28 kills in the Sewanhaka match.
The Falcons will lose nine seniors to graduation, so it will lean heavily on Joel Persaud in the future. The talented sophomore outside hitter is a versatile player who had a terrific first varsity season.
South showed tremendous resolve in winning six matches that went to five sets. In five of the six, the Falcons rallied back after being down two sets to one.
Junior Alex Quinn and senior Seancris Luyun provided strong defense from the back row. Senior Rishav Singh gave the team depth from the service area. Freshman E.J. Lamptey and senior Seth Evaristo saw time in the front row.
Hess, who also serves as varsity baseball coach, was thrilled with his team’s accomplishments. “It was a fantastic season,” Hess said. “Volleyball is an outstanding sport. You never having to worry about walking in the winning run or leaving the bases loaded.”