Five months ago, the South Side Women’s Volleyball team stood on the gym floor at Wantagh High School and watched the Warriors hoist the Class A Nassau championship plaque that the Cyclones had won the previous season. So far, they are on the verge of getting that crown back.
South Side, which also won the Long Island title in 2019, started 5-1 in an ultra-competitive A / C1 Conference after sweeping Long Beach last Saturday for its third straight victory. The Cyclones beat four opponents in straight sets while losing only four outside of tournaments.
The Cyclones beat Long Beach 25-18 in the first set, but the Marines held their own in the last two games before South Side slipped away with 26-24 and 25-23 wins. Sara Hubschman had 13 kills and her senior colleague Camryn Hoffman and sophomore Keira Birk played on defense with 14 digs each. Hoffman took the lead of the aces team with eight, giving him 24 on the campaign.
Last Saturday was a microcosm of the Cyclone season so far. Seven of South Side’s first 15 sets were won by two points and another was decided by three, bringing his average margin of victory to just over six points.
“The girls are tough,” coach Cheryl Scalice said. “I don’t want to fight with anyone. We are at this stage where we are trying to become more consistent.
The girls also showed tremendous resilience in their rematch with Wantagh on September 25. After being swept away at home by Mineola four days earlier, South Side surrendered the first set to the Warriors 25-21 before rebounding to win the last three. Senior Claire Richter and junior Ava Kelly totaled 23 assists while sophomore Cate Bradley and Birk totaled 39 assists. Five cyclones hit double digits in the digs, with Hoffman leading the season with a season-high 29.
“The kids got into a rhythm, they relaxed and then played better and better as the game progressed,” Scalice recalls.
Although it seemed like the sweetest win of the season, Scalice thought it was business as usual for his team.
“I’m sure it hasn’t been forgotten for a long time,” she said. “It’s always a battle between us. It’s our biggest rivalry, I would say.
The Cyclones have a strong attacking front with Hubschman, Kelly and Richter providing attack on both sides of the field. Bradley and Birk, who have played two 18-assist games this season, form a young nucleus as a passer.
There is also young talent at the back line with Sophia Vargas, who has managed 21 digs against Wantagh and approaching 70 this season, and her sophomore Delia Ryan providing solid defense.
At the time of going to press, South Side was one game away against Wantagh, Manhasset and Mineola for the top spot in the five-team conference. Even with this slight advantage, Scalice believes the division is up for grabs.
“It’s everyone’s game,” she said. “There is a lot of talent in all of these teams. It will be the one who climbs the most.