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Volleyball: New look for this year’s Indians team
The 2012 edition of Shelter Island volleyball stepped onto the court on Monday, August 27 at 8 a.m.
According to both Superintendent Dr. Michael Hynes and head custodian Mike Dunning, it was a minor miracle. The school has undergone some major renovation work during the summer and the gym had been the storage area for elementary classroom equipment and the staging area for the multiple renovation projects.
Just as the school opened with a shining new face, the volleyball team also looks a bit different this year. While the varsity team graduated only two seniors, Haley Willumsen and Kelsey McGayhey left big shoes to fill. But with seven seniors on the roster, the team has plenty of eager and talented athletes ready to make their mark on the program.
Seniors Katy Binder and Melissa Ames as well as junior MeMe Lawrence will be sharing setting duties this season. Katy, also a talented hitter, will be called on to run the offense from the back row and hit in the front. MeMe and Melissa, who is back after a year as a tennis player, both attended a setter’s clinic over the summer and with each practice session their communication and hands get better.
Alexis Gibbs and Saverina Chicka, both seniors, and sophomore Tiearza Lawrence will likely get the nod as middle hitters. They will also be the primary blockers for the team. Senior Morgan McCarthy and junior Erin Colligan are slated as our outside hitters, although Morgan’s versatility will come in handy as we explore many different lineups and try to maximize the talent of each athlete.
Seniors Jayme Clark and Tara Sturges will take on the extremely important libero and defensive specialist positions. They are responsible for controlling the first touch on the ball; and without a good pass, even the more powerful offense cannot be run.
The junior varsity squad has only two new players: freshmen Colibri Lopez and Elizabeth Dunning. Both are enjoying the challenge of playing the more complex high school game after stepping up from the junior high program. Fellow freshmen Kenna McCarthy, Kelly Colligan and Margaret Michalak are in the second year of high school volleyball. Their travel volleyball experience will also give them additional confidence and leadership on the court.
Kenna will run the court as the primary setter, backed up by sophomore Taylor Rando, once she has cleared some early season health hurdles. Kelly is small but strong and her well-developed serving and hitting abilities will be counted on to power the team. Margaret, a powerful hitter, will be a linchpin in the offense. Juniors Logan Pendergrass and Libby Liszanckie round out the roster. Logan, JV’s MVP last year, will be counted on for her all round good play again this year.
Both teams met Mattituck in an early season scrimmage on September 4. Varsity mixed and matched five different lineups but played well no matter who was on the court. JV, after a slow start, also saw success.
A non-league game against Mattituck on September 7 put the varsity team to the test in an official contest. The team admitted some early season jitters, as we knew that Mattituck has a never-say-die defense and Coach Frank Massa has a way of getting the best out of his teams. The two first sets saw a point-to-point battle most of the way, with Shelter Island winning 25-18 and 25-21.
In the middle of the third set, a Mattituck kill followed by back-to-back Island service and serve-receive errors took the wind out of our sails. A tremendous rally with the score tied 23-23 ended in Mattituck’s favor after a ball-handling error later gave Shelter Island a 23-25 loss.
The team gathered. They were quiet and a bit disjointed. For a team used to winning in 3-0 fashion, they were beginning to doubt themselves. Back onto the court they went. A few hitting errors here, miscommunication there and we found ourselves 3, then 6, then 9 points down in the fourth set.
At 9-18, there is a lot of ground to cover and not much time to do it. A block by Alexis Gibbs, a tremendous dig by Morgan McCarthy and a reinvigorated Erin Colligan, who hit for a set-high 5 kills, gave the team confidence.
We began chipping away at the Tuckers’ lead. At 19-23, we gathered in a timeout and I reiterated my faith in the team’s ability to continue fighting back and to win this set and match. Two Mattituck timeouts and a Saverina Chicka kill later, we had a 27-25 victory and our first victory of the season.
2012 is a new year and Shelter Island has a new mix of athletes. But we look forward to another winning season. We’ll do it in a new way: one that spreads out the setting and hitting responsibilities while involving all members of the squads.