Knowing its season would start with early challenges against tough conference opponents, Valley Stream North girls’ volleyball treated preseason practice as if their fate hung in the balance. Working around a late summer heat wave, the team practiced early in mornings and late at nights. It even met on Labor Day, putting in extra work four days prior to the opening match.
To say it has paid off would be an understatement. With four matches remaining, the Lady Spartans are staring at the prospect of an undefeated season. At 10-0, they sit comfortably atop Conference A4 with a three-game lead, and coach Mary Parisi pointed to their strong start as a catalyst for their sustained success.
“I knew the sooner we could mesh together and get them more comfortable playing together, I knew it could pay off,” Parisi said. “It’s really all been the hard work of the girls.”
Developing chemistry early was especially important considering the Lady Spartans have just one senior – co-captain Victoria Rossetti, who shares that designation with juniors Emily Soldatic, the team’s libero, and Tess Drosman.
While Rossetti and Soldatic are among the team’s top defensive players and servers, Parisi said Drosman is a force at the net. “She’s our most dominant hitter and blocker,” Parisi said. “She’s really come into her own and just takes the lead in the front row.”
The team has received contributions from athletes across all grade levels. Eighth-grader Kayla Santo is in the starting lineup. Their setter, Haley Nelson, is a freshman who Parisi said can put the ball in the right spot from anywhere on the court. Sophomore Jillian Cosme is another stellar back row defensive player who also serves well.
Amid their spectacular run, the Lady Spartans have been truly dominant. After fending off challenges from Glen Cove and Jericho to open the season, they ripped off six straight wins without dropping a set. It wasn’t until last week when they were pushed to the limit when they again faced Jericho on the road on Oct 10.
After the Lady Spartans took the first two sets, “Jericho kind of woke up,” Parisi said.
Jericho scored 13 straight points to open the third set and went on to tie the match at two sets apiece. “I said its 0-0 now,” Parisi recalled telling her girls before the decisive fifth set. “We won two, they won two. We just need to shake it off and come back strong.”
They regained their edge quickly. With Rossetti serving, they won seven straight points to take a commanding lead. They then put it out of reach with a run of 11 straight with Nelson serving, and would win the set, 25-11, maintaining their perfect season.
Crosstown rival Valley Stream Central will be the final hurdle, on Oct. 25, if the Lady Spartans were to run the table. If they do, it would cap a meteoric rise for the program since Parisi became coach three years ago following a winless season. They finished in third place in the conference that year, and second place a season ago.
“Everyone’s buying in,” the coach said. “This season is a perfect example to show that when you get the team, parents and the athletic program to buy in to this common goal, we can see how successful we can be.”