When the junior varsity team returned from their match at Wyandanch on Sept. 13, Coach Laura Mayo was not happy. Wyandanch only has a JV squad, has good servers and their athletes move well to play a ball. However, nine times out of 10, the ball comes directly back to the other team. This one-and-over style of play is more reminiscent of a junior high team, but it is undeniably off-putting to a team which is in tune with the pass, set, hit tempo of a more advanced style of play. To lose to a team that plays “picnic” volleyball is frustrating. With the rematch on Oct. 11, she had a different strategy, and Shelter Island came away with the win.
In preparing for the match, the varsity team scrimmaged with the JV team Wyandanch style — tough serves and quick returns. The JV squad was ready for the unorthodox play, and behind Alex Burns’ serving and Madi Teodoru’s quick reactions, took the first set 25-19. Thrilled with their success, SI let Wyandanch build up a head of steam in the second set. The first timeout was called at 2-10. Grace Olinkiewicz and Andrea Napoles patrolled the net, but undeterred, Wyandanch continued and Coach Mayo called her second when SI was behind by 13 points at 5-18. She led the team with a breathing exercise and quick meditation, saying “I’ve seen this team come back from 13 down before. We are still in this.”
Each player on the court buckled down, while the bench revved up, cheering for their teammates. Myla Dougherty got 2 points. Angie Rice sent a hard free ball over, surprising the opponent. Lydia Shepherd scored 2 more with her steady serves. Bella Springer stepped to the line with the score at 15 to 24. One missed serve would end the game in Wyandanch’s favor.
With nerves of steel, she served. After 2 points, the Wyandanch coach began subbing players, both putting in her starters and also, as a delaying tactic, in an effort to slow Bella down. Franny Regan and Emma Martinez Madjisova are take-charge players and their passing and hitting added points. At 20-24, Wyandanch called a timeout. Bella, supported by excellent play of her teammates, got to the all-important 24-24. In volleyball you need to win by 2 points, so a missed serve here wouldn’t automatically end the game. On her 10th serve, Bella did serve out, starting a back and forth point matching rally. Out of timeouts and nearly out of substitutions, Wyandanch called for a shoe tying break at 26-26. After fierce play, Wyandanch did come out on top 29-27, but the tide and momentum had shifted.
The third and deciding set was a showcase in SI reliance. Mary Gennari calmly set the ball to Springer so she could score on a swing. Margaret Schultheis worked through some nervousness to make a great save as she hustled out of bounds to track down an errant pass and get the score to 21. Kathy Ramos served 5 straight during a Wyandanch subbing flurry of 4 players. The blue and gray took the final set with a definitive score of 25-12.
The elated coach praised her players: “They are always calm and confident that we will get it done, and they do.” The win pushes the JV record to 10-2.
Varsity vs Hampton Bays
The varsity team nearly always plays Hampton Bays during the season. Although they are in League VII, we are often very closely matched. The official non-league status of the Oct. 10 match was derailed by the lack of officials, but both teams wanted to play. We played a regular style game, with the Hampton Bays coach refining while the assistant coaches ran the team.
With Amelia Clark and Audrey Wood both out, we were left with one trained middle hitter. Amelia Reiter normally plays right side, but her height and blocking ability made her a natural choice to shift to middle for the day. She delivered with 3 blocks, pumping up the intimidation factor for the Baywomen. Lauren Gurney, our other middle, dazzled with tough serves, and a powerful blast to the corner on a hit — her best of the season.
Dayla Reyes also had an outstanding day running the offense. She racked up 23 assists while trying out some quicker offense. She set up Valeria Reyes for 9 kills, Valeria’s best total on the season. Jane Richards also got 6 kills to match her 6 aces.
Both Jen Lupo and Maria Carbajal had errorless serving, putting the pressure on the HB receiver. Carbajal also added 3 kills. The team work was great as well. Abby Kotula made a fabulous save from the deep corner after a near collision of her teammates. Lyng Coyne’s high energy defense and communication sparked the team as well.
Although the result won’t show on our official record, we did beat the Baywomen 25-23, 21-25, 27-25, 25-19. While it wasn’t easy, the win is a confidence booster and a feather in our cap.
I am very happy to see the evolution of this team. We are now more consistently earning our points through positive actions on our side as opposed to winning due to mistakes from the other team.
The teams’ next challenge will be against Greenport/Southold today, Thursday, Oct 17. The Clippers are a very similar team to us, and we are both gunning for the playoffs. We lost to them in a hard-fought 2-3 match on Sept. 11. This is an important game for both teams, and each will be playing with pride and purpose.
The final home game for both squads will be Wednesday, Oct. 23 against Pierson. Come cheer on the teams and wish our seniors farewell!