Island squad makes history

The 2009 Southeast Region Champs: (front, from left) Lisa Rasmussen, Co-captain Claire Read, Co-captain Shelby Willumsen, Mariah Jacobs; (back) Coach Karen Gibbs, Dana Ramos, Haley Willumsen, Rachael Heinze, Kelsey McGayhey, Stephanie Vecchio, Mackenzie Needham, Coach Cindy Belt.

Island squad makes history
Volleyball team takes Haldane 3-1, heads to Final Four

The Shelter Island varsity volleyball team has made history.
They defeated the Haldane Blue Devils in Bellport Friday,
28-26, 25-21, 24-26, 25-19. They are the New York State
southeastern region champions and the first Island squad to go
to the state championships undefeated (16-0).
The Indians will travel to Glens Falls Civic Center for state
semi-final pool play on Saturday, November 21. If they finish
in the top two after playing two 25-point sets against each of
the other three qualifiers, the squad will advance to the Class
D finals on Sunday. The Section 11 champs will face Thomas A.
Edison (Section 4, Elmira area), Chateaugay (Section 10, north
of Syracuse), and Cattaraugus-Little Valley (Section 6, western
New York)
The team heads to the state tournament for the third time in
six years, but for the first time, they arrive with a regional
championship plaque in hand.
“For us, this was huge,†Coach
Cindy Belt said Saturday of the championship and the first-time
win against Haldane, a team that has been a persistent
post-season roadblock for the Island squad.
The Indians advanced to the regionals in 2005, 2006 and 2008
only to be beaten by Haldane. In 2007, Shelter Island advanced
to the state tournament by default but lost in pool play
— Haldane went on to become the state champs
that year. The Indians also went to states on a bye in 2004 but
lost all their pool games.
Friday’s victory was the first time Shelter
Island won a set, let alone a match, in five meetings with
Coach Belt and the girls are coming down from the high of a
regional title, practicing this week prior to the Friday bus
trip to Glens Falls.
“The level of play when you get to states is
above and beyond†anything the girls have seen on
Long Island, Coach Belt said. But this squad is strong and
“well seasoned,†she added, and
their confident, competitive play distinguishes them from past
Indian teams. “They’re
nice kids,†she said, “but
they’re willing to hit
The Haldane game was a thriller with each point hard won. The
Indians made “fabulous saves followed by
crushing kills,†Coach Belt commented.
But a big part of the win was the crowd of Islanders that made
the trip west to cheer on their hometown athletes.
“The fans were awesome,†the
coach said. “To hear the crowd
roar†kept the team pumped up.
For Coach Belt’s play-by-play of the
regional championship, read the November 19 Reporter.