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Varsity volleyball team makes state regional playoffs

The varsity volleyball team ended the regular league competition at 5-7, our best finish since 2015. In contrast, we had won a total of six league matches in the previous three seasons. That effort has been rewarded by being designated the Section XI/Suffolk County Class D champions. In order to get that honor we had to play well in our final two matches.

Tuesday, Oct. 22 was the Ross School’s senior send-off, and they also kindly honored our eight seniors. Following the ceremony the Ravens took the court, and showed their resolve to finish the season strong.

In the first set,the Islanders got off to a slow start, likely remembering our relatively easy victory in September. Ross was looking good, moving well to the ball, and despite a lack of traditional pass-set-hit offense, they earned quite a few points. We have continued to improve our offense, and both

Jane Richards and Amelia Clark had commanding kills to get the score to 25-22.

In the second set, the Islanders seemed to rest on their laurels. With the Ravens putting nearly everything back over, often to deep corners, the Blue and Gray seemed to lack a sense of urgency.

With the score at 7-7, we had already missed five serves. But we settled down, with Amelia Reiter setting Clark for another kill, and Jen Lupo hustling for mis-passed balls. There were 11 ties throughout the match, with Ross outlasting us to pull out the win 27-25.

A bit chagrined, the Islanders turned things around in set three. They focused, gathering in a huddle to coach themselves into a better mindset. Maria Carbajal and Abby Kotula brought out their toughest serves, while setter Dayla Reyes began to run a quicker offense. We took the third set 25-10.

Needing to win three sets to take the match, we jumped out to a 10-1 lead in set four. Valeria Reyes, who had been quiet most of the set, began to swing hard and serve tough. Lauren Gurney had a nice kill to the corner, and despite a late game rally by the determined Ravens, the Islanders won the set and match 25-17. That 3-1 win allowed us to be undefeated in Class D (the smallest schools).

Our last league match was on Oct. 23 against League VIII’s second place Pierson. It marked the final time our seniors would play on the Shelter Island court. With eight seniors, we opted for a different ceremony than usual. We asked every member of the varsity and JV teams to use one word to describe the seniors, then read the top 10 for each player after presenting her with a flower.

The words contained references to both their volleyball careers and personalities, and had a few inside jokes sprinkled in. Finally, family and friends joined the honored player on the court for photos.

When we saw Pierson in September, we played well, but lost in three sets. They have some very tough servers, and two excellent hitters who are hard to stop. We focused on limiting the Whalers’ service runs and were largely successful.

The first set was lost 25-13 as we adjusted our defense to their high leaping middle hitter’s spikes, which just went over the top of our blocks. But this team is resilient, and when the Whalers switched up their line-up to allow some of their emerging players to be on the court, we pounced.

Jane Richards served three aces to get the opponents on their heels. The coach put some of her starters back in to right the ship, but we won the second set 25-21.

In the third set we started to see some success as Abby Kotula and Lyng Coyne were able to adjust their defense to get digs on the Pierson offense. The home crowd roared their approval as Audrey Wood had a nice kill and Amelia Reiter’s big block temporarily shut down the Whalers’ middle attack. The Whalers took the set 25-15.

In the final set Pierson jumped out to a 6-0 lead. But the determined Blue and Gray refused to fold. Serving tough, and hustling like crazy, we crept back, then traded points before a few errors and the relentless Whaler attack allowed them to take the match, 25-18.

With the final league competition in the books, we’re looking forward to the Class D playoffs. Because we play in a league with primarily Class C teams, and are undefeated in Class D, our petition to represent Section XI/Suffolk County has been approved.

Regaining our county championship has been a goal for three years, and I’m proud of this never-say-die team for pushing and learning to make that a reality.

Our eyes are now on the Wednesday, Nov. 6 New York State Southeast Regional Semi-Final. We’ll be playing the still-to-be-determined Section I champions. The match will be in our backyard: Greenport High School will be hosting the event at 4 p.m. Get out your blue and gray and come cheer on this crew.

JV ends season on a terrific run
What is there to say when your team ends with a 13-2 record? If you are Coach Laura Mayo you simply say, “That was awesome,” and let those words convey the pride and admiration she has for enthusiastic and resilient athletes.

Junior varsity volleyball player Franny Regan serving up another ace.

The Shelter Island junior varsity team won back-to-back matches over the Ross School and Pierson to close out the season with a 10-game winning streak. All players contributed in the 25-15, 25-13, 22-25 Oct. 22 win against the Ross Ravens.

Mary Gennaeri, Margaret Schultheis, Andrea Napoles, Madigan Teodoru and Alex Burns were members of the undefeated junior high team last winter. Their skills have improved a great deal this season. Confident passing and strong serving were showcased in the win over the Ravens.

The next day the team squared off against the Pierson Whalers. In that final league competition, the match did a 180 degree turn from a first set loss to a trouncing of the visitors in the final set. At the start the Islanders made a series of mistakes, and missed five serves. Despite Angie Rice’s nice back-row kill and Myla Dougherty’s steady passing, the Whalers took the first set 25-22.

Lily Page has embraced her role as a hitter and a blocker, intimidating Pierson at the net. Madi Teodoru showed great passing form as she fed the ball to setter Bella Springer and Emma Martinez Majdisova powered it down for one of her four kills of the match. Kathy Ramos’ infectious enthusiasm helped power the team to a 25-12 win.

The third set was the tie breaker. The Islanders had to maintain their confidence and high level of play to win the match. Grace Olinkiewicz was up to the challenge, spiking and tipping well. Behind the stellar serving of Rice (nine serves, three aces) and Franny Regan (nine serves, six aces), along with the error-free serving of Lydia Shepherd and Izzy Fonseca, the home town favorites cruised to an incredible score of 25-3 to seal the victory and end the season.

Reflecting on the season, Coach Mayo said, “They are a group of athletes who love playing the game and were committed to staying positive, getting better, having fun, and winning. I’m lucky I get to spend so much of my time with such nice and talented people.”