Written by Keith Schroeder Friday, 30 October 2009 00:00
Two years ago, the Mineola girls’ varsity volleyball team had their backs to the wall in an attempt to qualify for the Nassau County Class B playoffs. A five-set, come-from-behind victory against undefeated Levittown Division was necessary on the last day of the season. This year, the tide turned. The Lady Mustangs were the undefeated behemoth needing a clinching victory against Bethpage to nail down their second conference championship in five years under the tenure of coach Diana Nick-Kohl. The bulls-eye was firmly in place.
The suspense built last Wednesday as Mineola went to the wire to secure the Conference V title with a heart-stopping match on their brand new hardwood floor and net apparatus. The five-game match had the Golden Eagles taking the first two of three games providing the home team with memories of 2007.
The Mustangs steamrolled through the season with a perfect 12-0 record but never faced this type of adversity. The girls rebounded and pulled together winning two games in succession by scores of 27-25 and 25-20 after trailing in each game. The Mustang faithful erupted as the bleachers were packed with proud parents, students and many of the other varsity teams who were on hand to salute the accomplishment.
Coach Nick-Kohl has assembled a well-balanced team over the past few years playing in unison with some members playing their third full varsity season. The two senior co-captains are Ashley O’Neill and Elaina Kalantzopoulos, who lead this group with steady play and positive leadership. Ashley plays the outside hitter position with Elaina as the setter.
The remaining seniors are Heather Dolan, right hitter, and Michelle Morrison on the back row. The juniors, who make up the team’s majority, are Heather Gessner and All-Conference selection Christine Barry as middle hitters, Lacey Fater as an outside hitter and Krystie Kern setting. Angela Athan, Vickey Kim, Catherine Carboine and Lauren Sasso have played utility roles this year in anticipation of filling the spots of the graduates. The lone sophomore of this upperclass-laden group is libero Nicole Lockwood.
According to the coaches, the key to this season was “support of one another, initiative, leadership, learning, communication and organization.” The goal was perfecting the skills of the players and focusing on set plays now that the team possessed a veteran feel.
With the Lady Mustangs back on the map, the girls look to finish the season undefeated before moving on to the Nassau County Class B playoffs on November 4 with an opponent and venue still to be determined. Until that date, the team has unfinished business by avoiding blemishes on their record.