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Whirlwind, winning week for volleyball teams

With three league matches in five days, hard on the heels of a tournament, the Shelter Island volleyball team has been on fast forward. It was also a very successful week.

The junior varsity had three matches and came away with three wins. The Monday, Sept. 23 win over the Ross School was a 3-0 sweep. On Wednesday the visiting Port Jefferson Royals played well, but went down to a 2-1 defeat. The Friday match in Sag Harbor against a tall Pierson team also resulted in a 2-1 win.

At the Sept. 23 match, bouquets of flowers were on the front bleachers where Valarie Shepherd always sat, cheering on her two granddaughters and the teams. Lost to us on the previous Friday, Valerie’s spirit was there as both Island teams prevailed against a young Ross contingent.

The JV started out the evening in fine style, winning 25-11, 25-14 and 25-13. Isabella Fonseca’s 10 straight serves was a highlight of the first set, while Myla Dougherty’s 10 points in the second put that game out of reach for the Cosmos. Great serving continued in the third, with Madigan Teodoru’s deceptive serve and Kathy Ramos’ power aced the Cosmos. Grace Olinkiewicz’s alert blocking and hitting intimidated the opponents. Margaret Schultheis’s thumbs up and smile in response to Coach Laura Mayo’s “You’ve got this!” shows how this team is continuing to grow and enjoy the game.

On Sept. 25, Port Jeff came to town. A good defensive team, they matched the Island’s scrambles, but the home team is really starting to put it all together. Franny Regan calmly passed a serve to setter Bella Springer and Emma Martinez Majdisova hit it down with authority as we took the first set 25-20. Lily Page’s inspired serving added points to Lydia Shepherd’s blocks and calm free ball passing as the team held off a late surge by the Royals to win 25-23. Coach Mayo’s said, “You are showing unreal effort and unreal composure. I am so proud of you right now.”

After winning the first two sets in the match, Coach Mayo mixed up the line up, giving players the chance to assume different roles. In the third set Alex Burns got two aces in a row, while Andrea Napoles had a terrific save to tie the score. However, the Royals got on a serving roll, and we dropped the last set 25-11, although we had already won the match.

The Friday, Sept. 27 match in Sag Harbor once again showed how far this team has come. Angelina Rice’s excellent serve receive and defensive work set the stage for the team to run a nice offense. Emma Martinez Majdisova and Myla Dougherty combined for nine of the team’s 18 kills, a healthy number for a JV squad. Mary Gennari’s steady serving added two aces, and the team won the competitive match 25-19 and 25-21, while dropping the third set 25-9.

The JV squad has a 5-2 record.

Varsity digs deep
The Ross School is the only other Class D volleyball team on Long Island, so our Sept. 23 match was particularly meaningful. Shelter Island is aiming for the Class D title and the playoffs this year, and the convincing 25-14, 25-15, 25-13 over the Cosmos was a great way to showcase our intentions.

The varsity squad is running a quicker offense and shifting serve receive as needed, on their own initiative, instead of waiting for a coach’s suggestions. Jen Lupo put her serve into smart spots, then added a nice down ball hit. Lauren Gurney’s powerful and more consistent hits added pop to our offense. Audrey Wood’s kill to get to 24 in the third set was icing on the cake.

The victory over Ross set us up for a rematch with Port Jefferson. On Sept. 25, in the closest games of the season, the Island girls dug deep, hung tough and thrilled the home crowd for a 3-0 win over the Royals. Both teams are defensively minded, but in the Island’s best offensive effort to date, the home team gained the advantage. Led by Jane Richards’s five kills, and Valeria Reyes’ and Amelia Clark’s four apiece, the well balanced attack helped us outwork the Royals.

Despite a quick 25-11 victory in the first set, primarily on Valeria Reyes’ serving, the win didn’t come easily. The Royals upped the ante in the second set. Lyng Coyne demonstrated her mastery of the defense “pancake” move, digging the ball up literally an inch off the gym floor to deny a Royals’ kill. Abby Kotula’s fast feet covered balls all the way to the baseline for long balls. Amelia Reiter surprised the visiting team with her smart placement of a block deep in the court. With spirited support from the stands, we held off a 24-24 tie to squeak out a 26-24 win.

Port Jeff hung tough in the third set, but Dayla Reyes’s smart tips, an ace by Kotula and an all-around team effort sealed the exciting 25-22 match win.

On Sept. 27, we took the trip to Sag Harbor to play the tough Pierson Whalers. They had taken two sets from league-leading Mattituck. It took time to adjust to their tactics. After a humbling 25-8 loss in the first set, we settled down and gained more points in each game. Maria Carbajal was a crowd favorite, and her three aces and two kills helped steady the team. The squad adapted nicely as we made adjustments to our line-up to match up our defense against their best hitters and servers.

Although we dropped the next two sets 25-14 and 25-19, we will be more prepared when we meet them again during our senior and final home game on Oct. 23.

There’s lots of parity in the teams in the middle of League VIII, and we are looking forward to a rematch against Babylon on Friday, October 4. It will be our Dig Pink match, and we will be raising funds for breast cancer research.

Please come support the team, along with a great cause.