Massapequa Volleyball
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As the Nassau County Class A defending champions, the Massapequa boys volleyball team knew they were going to be a target for every opponent on their schedule this year.

But Head Coach Steve Mariano reminded his team before the season began to remember that people thought the program would never win when it started seven years ago.

“I told the team that their roles changed now after winning and they are no longer an underdog,” Mariano said. “We had to remember that we were playing in the bottom conferences when the program started. It was important for the guys to remember where they came from and they needed to defend their title with their play on the court and not their mouths.”

The Chiefs lost five starters from last year’s championship team, but young players have stepped into new positions and have led Massapequa to a record of 9-1 and a tie for first place in Conference I. The 2010 Massapequa volleyball team consists of five seniors, three juniors and four sophomores,

“We knew there were high expectations for us and that there would be pressure on young kids to step up,” said junior Christian Smith, one of the three captains for this year’s team. “We had a tough beginning of the season, but have ended it in a strong way with people realizing what their roles are. Everyone is getting a lot of experience which should help the program in the future.”

The Chiefs offense is one of the tallest in Nassau County and is led by their two middles, junior Christopher Husmann and sophomore Steven Woessner.

“Our two middles are a force in the center,” Mariano said. “We are a big and fast team at the net. Both players give us two strong rotations which is needed to stop the other team from making big runs.”

The offense could not be run without Smith as the team’s first setter.

“Christian is a smart setter and a great player on the court,” Mariano said. “The ball comes out of his hands very quickly. He has a powerful jump serve and also can hit as a setter which helps our overall offensive rotation.”

The anchor of the Chiefs defense is sophomore libero Frank DelGiudice.

“Frankie is a young kid who is coming along well,” Mariano said. “He has done a great job this season and is only going to get better as he matures with age. He will develop physical and mental strengths that will help his overall game.”

Husmann, who has played on the varsity team for three seasons, said it is exciting being a member of this program.

“It’s a great feeling that this year’s team has stepped up with so many people playing in different positions than the past,” Hussman said. “Playing on this team has been a fun experience and we feel like we are all brothers with great team chemistry.”

Mariano said he is hopeful that an early season 3-2 loss to Port Washington, which the Chiefs were winning 2-0 before losing three consecutive games, will help the team as the season progresses.

“Losing helped us realize that anybody can be defeated at anytime,” Mariano said. “That was a learning experience and gave us a chance to work on our problems. We realized that we are not invincible and are not the best team. We are looking forward to seeing Port Washington again in the playoffs and want to avenge what happened in the beginning of the year.”

Mariano, who was a four-year varsity setter at West Hempstead High School from 1995 to 1998, has been the head coach at Massapequa for the last three seasons. Mariano has led the program to a county championship in 2009 and the county semi-finals in 2008.

Mariano said his young team needs to work on its killer instinct before the playoffs begin, starting with the defensive effort.

“We sometimes rely on our offense to carry us to a victory,” Mariano said. “We can’t do this against the better teams. We are caught standing too much watching what is happening on the court. It is important that the guys just go out and play. They can’t over think the game and need to have fun on the court.”

Husmann, who is also a captain of this year’s team, said it will be his job to make sure the inexperienced players remain calm during the post-season.

“Many of the sophomore players on this year’s team have never played in the playoffs before,” Husmann said. “Our team crumbles when we play nervous. I need to step up to make sure the team is calm and controlled during the playoffs to help us win and defend our county championship.”


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