A talented trio of eighth graders paced the J. Taylor Finley Middle School boys’ volleyball team this year. The 16-player squad gave everything they had on the court and enjoyed a great season, despite coming up short more often than they had hoped to.
Coached by Todd Donaghy, the Falcons were captained by eighth graders Jack O’Brien and Robert Ericksen.
“The team was an athletic, talented collection of good boys,” Donaghy said. “Most of the programs we played this season have multiple players that play club ball. Considering this was our first season together, we had a very successful year.”
Middle hitter Jahiem Hawkins had team bests in digs and “kills” and was a star on the court. “Jahiem is an all-around terrific athlete, an outstanding hitter and defensive player,” Donaghy said. “He may be the best athlete that I’ve coached at this level.”
O’Brien and Ericksen both excelled as setters and led the Falcons in assists. “Jack and Robert did an outstanding job setting for us this season,” Donaghy said. “Jack was especially excellent at getting his hitters the ball in the right spot.”
Seventh grader Joseph Toscano also shined, leading the team in service points scored.
Finley’s roster also included seventh graders Riley Ackerman, Conor Boyle, Matthew Gerardi and Vincent Grassi and eighth graders Matthew Beasley, Jack Cesare, Ethan Evans, Paul Knieriem, Nicholas Mazzarella, Luke Rinaldi, Jackson Schmidt and Walter Vohs IV.
Blue Devil volleyball alum and Huntington grad John McCarthy and current senior and varsity girls’ volleyball player Rachel Moss pitched in and helped Donaghy coach the enthusiastic team.
The highlight of the season produced thrills for everyone on the team. Trailing 2-1 in games, Finley rallied to topple powerful Commack-Gold, 25-18, 14-25, 17-25, 25-21, 25-19 on the Falcons’ home court.
“Our record wasn’t indicative of how well we played this season,” Donaghy said. “We were competitive in every match we played. Our objective was to teach and learn how to play the game the right way, utilizing three hits and we did just that.”