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Lessons learned for hardworking varsity and JV volleyball players

Shelter Island Volleyball is already more than halfway through its season, and things will go very quickly from here. The teams are doing well, with JV sporting an impressive 7-2 record, and varsity with its best record in 3 seasons, at 4-5, and on the cusp of making playoffs.

It is said that sports teach life skills. Well, it certainly seems to be that way with SIVB. On Wednesday, Oct. 3, the varsity team lost a well-played match to league-leading Mattituck, and came to practice the next day determined to learn from their mistakes and work harder. On Friday Oct. 5, the squads hosted the annual Dig Pink breast cancer match, raising funds for others while learning about a disease that may affect them some day. After the win against Babylon the varsity team gathered and shared the highlights of the match. Unprompted, the team gave genuine compliments to one another, noticing the contributions of every member of the squad. That’s true team work.

Our rematch with Babylon as the annual Dig Pink match was a special game, held each October to raise awareness and funds for the Side-Out Foundation which was started by a volleyball coach in honor of his mother. The foundation focuses on funding research for Stage IV breast cancer. Banners and streamers decorated the gym. Pink carnations were given to players and their mothers and others in the stands to show that these young women support important research and awareness of the disease which strikes one in eight women on Long Island.

The afternoon started with a couple of snafus. Due to a shortage of officials, the refs for the JV game got reassigned, leaving us with the choice of not playing the JV match, rescheduling or finding a volunteer official. With decorations and plans in place for the biggest bash of the year, and Babylon already traveling a very long way it made sense to quickly find someone to ref the game. New 4th grade teacher Claire Read to the rescue! A Shelter Island alum who played on championship volleyball teams in the past, Read donned a whistle, brushed up on some recent rule changes and let the teams play.

The match was close; 25-23, 25-18 and 25-22. All athletes played and some excellent volleys and hustles had the coaches and fans cheering loudly for the extraordinary effort.

Emma Martinez Majdisova was hitting well as Bella Springer hustled to get to every play and put up a set. Angelina Rice’s energetic defense was remarkable, at one point she nearly ran into the stands to save a ball and win the point to the delight of the supportive crowd. Myla Dougherty was big at the net both hitting and blocking, and made her mark from the serving line as well.

Smaller, often unnoticed efforts, also paid off. Andrea Napoles saved a ball from the net, letting the play continue. Margaret Schultheis hustled to get into position for defense. Madi Teodoru showed her excellent footwork as she tracked down a deep ball.

Franny Regan is great at communicating. Her “I go, I go” let hitters release to prep for attack, making the offense run smoothly. Lily Page is really starting to attack the ball with confidence, while Isabella Fonseca’s steady passing and Mary Gennari’s reliable serves bolster the team’s winning streak.

Alex Burns’ strong serves started the third set, and Kathy Ramos’ ace tied the score as SIVB made a comeback in the final stanza to sweep the Panthers.

Varsity girls

With Lauren Gurney off at a college visit during the Babylon match, middle hitters Amelia Clark and Audrey Wood held down the center on their own. They did a great job, with both consistently up on blocks forcing the Panthers hitters to go over them and out of bounds, or funneling the spikes to waiting defenders. Valeria Reyes, with her trademark never-say-die defense also was the top kill-getter on the team. She and setter Dayla Reyes seem to have a special twin connection that allows them to get to balls and put them up with ease.

Jennifer Lupo had a breakout game as she not only served for three points, but also contributed a kill and good defense in the precedent-setting win in the first set. Jane Richards showcased her ability to adapt to situations, blasting a down-the-line spike to the delight of the team.

We have shifted our lineup to allow Maria Carbajal to serve first. Her rock-steady demeanor and 5 aces laid the groundwork for the win. Abby Kotula was also a serving dynamo, with no errors and 2 aces.

Amelia Reiter joined in the fun as her very effective blocks frustrated the Panthers. What got by Reiter was scooped up by Lyng Coyne’s energetic defense. The feisty defense sparked the team to a 25-17, 25-17, 25-16 victory. It was the perfect cap to a long but wonderful evening.

The all-hands-on-deck sweep sets the stage for the final three league matches. Two wins will guarantee a playoff spot. The team is focused and beginning to hit its stride. More work is needed but this team is more than up for the challenge. Our mantra this year has an addition: Play Well, Have Fun and Work Hard. And you can bet they will do it.

Only two home matches remain: The JV will face the unorthodox Wyandanch team on Oct. 11 at 4:30. The final league match and senior send-off will take place on Oct. 23.