All season long, the Wantagh girls volleyball team has subscribed to the mantra “Trust yourself, trust each other and trust the process.”
Maintaining their superb level of success has been contingent upon the one key principle. And in their case, an extraordinary amount of it revolves around not only senior Olivia Pugliese, but also their star freshman.
As she has been throughout the fall, Sadie Reich was on a mission Wednesday night at LIU Post and would not be stopped, as she tallied 19 kills and 10 digs in No. 1 Wantagh’s 27-29, 25-15, 25-18, 25-18 victory over No. 6 Calhoun to win their second consecutive Nassau Class A title.
“I’m just beyond thankful for my team,” Reich said. “We’ve come so far since the beginning of the season. We had a hard time in our first tournament, but we progressed so much and we earned this for the work that we put into it.”
Wantagh coach Dan O’Shea commended Reich for the tremendous impact she’s had since debuting last season as an eighth grader.
“She can do everything on the court for us,” O’Shea said. “She serves really well, can hit every single ball every single set anywhere on the court and plays great defense.”
Wantagh (15-2) will now receive the opportunity it was not granted last season because of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the team will return to Post at 4 p.m. on Saturday to compete in the Long Island Class A championship/Southeast Regional final against Kings Park.
“We are very excited for this opportunity,” said Pugliese, who had 18 digs, 12 kills and four blocks. “We really wanted it last year, so this is our year. We feel like we can do this.”
Back-to-back 25-18 wins over the final two sets, which featured a 10-run in the fourth to go ahead 19-13 and capture the momentum for good, sealed the title for Wantagh.
The two sides continuously traded points over the course of the opening set before Calhoun (12-7) prevailed with a 29-27 win and an early 1-0 lead. Wantagh bounced back in the second, seizing control with five unanswered points to move ahead 20-13 and even the score at 1 soon after.
“After the first set our coach pulled us in and we had to talk about we needed to trust each other and have each other’s back,” Reich said. “We were lacking that a little bit, so we came into the second set strong, powerful and we looked each other in the eye and expressed that trust.”
A great deal of it was given to Reich, with the title on the line. She rewarded her teammates for their faith in her, and fittingly enough, recorded the final kill to capture the repeat.
“I love Sadie,” Pugliese said. “She’s amazing; she really is. She’s a huge part of this team on and off the court. Her energy is great.”