After capturing a pair of boys’ volleyball conference titles over a three-year period, Hewlett underwent a season where it failed to win a single match in 2017. As a result, the Bulldogs were dropped down a conference.
The move to Nassau Conference A-III has proved to be a blessing for the Bulldogs. With its dramatic, come-from-behind 19-25, 12-25, 25-23, 23-23, 15-10 victory over visiting Lawrence on Oct. 4, Hewlett halted a two-game losing skid and improved to 6-2 in league play.
Senior Michael DeCicco, who was moved to outside hitter prior to the match, had 17 kills and added six service aces. The Bulldogs trail conference-leading Valley Stream South by one game in the standings. Lawrence fell to 5-2.
Long-time Hewlett coach Monique Ciccarelli’s team is a work in progress. “We lost 10 seniors after a pretty tough season,” Ciccarelli said. “We’re still finding our identity. We’ve played better as the season has gone along. After a few tough losses, we rebounded with a big win by playing smart and scrappy volleyball.”
DeCicco, who was the team’s libero before making the switch to outside, is the team’s most consistent player. Whether he’s playing outstanding defense, setting, or hitting, DeCicco sets the tone. With DeCicco’s move to hitter, Jonah Yocai has taken over libero duties.
Senior Justin Cooper, a 6-foot-7 middle hitter, is outstanding at controlling the middle of the court. Cooper had a dozen kills and five blocks in the win over Lawrence.
Jordan Epstein took over at setter as a senior playing in just his second year of volleyball, and is doing an admirable job. Ciccarelli points to Epstein’s athleticism and his willingness to learn as the keys to his progress. Junior Sam Kelstein is a solid setter and strong all-around player who continues to improve.
Senior Elliot Graber is the whole package. He is the team’s most consistent server, hits well from the outside, and rarely leaves the court. Graber and Mitchell Shemtov each had seven blocks and seven kills in a five-set win over Sewanhaka.
Sam Bogdanov is the heart and soul of the team. The senior captain is highly capable at both outside and right side hitter. Eldar Riskovich is another versatile performer who can play just about anywhere on the court. Riskovich has been effective from the serving area.
Freshman Nicholas Morgan made his varsity debut against Lawrence and showed why he’ll be a big part of the future at Hewlett. Junior Isaac Bardavid is an up-and-comer who can jump out of the gym.
The winner of Conference A-III receives the league’s only berth in the county playoff tournament. Ciccarelli says playing in the postseason is always the goal.
“To earn a playoff spot, we’re going to have to be more consistent,” Ciccarelli said. “Our serve receive can be better, and our approach has to be to get on the floor and never give up on a ball. We have to keep playing scrappy.”
The Bulldogs welcome in Carey this Friday afternoon at 5.