Featured Story

‘Small squad with the big heart’ — Volleyball teams off to great start

The week of Sept. 13-18 was packed with action for the Islanders’ volleyball teams. The junior varsity had two matches, while the varsity had three, capped with a tournament.

Junior varsity

As the Greenport/Southold JV team entered the gym on Monday, Sept. 13, we had to search hard among the over 20 athletes to wave hello to Janet Carbajal and Jennifer Fabian, two former Island athletes now playing for the Clippers. By contrast, Shelter Island had just seven available athletes. But as the game results showed, quantity doesn’t always indicate quality.

The JV had gotten to the gym early to set up the net and practice service rotation and review defense. Captain Margaret Schultheis kept the team upbeat as we went through our paces.

As the match started there were some great hustles on the court with Sophie Clark digging up a ball to Maddie Springer, who set Mackenzie Speece-Lagendal for one of her 4 kills. Danae Carter who has been working hard on her serves, scored at ace to tie up the game at 10-10.  Unfortunately, the Islanders missed serves didn’t allow the team to get much traction, and the Clippers took the first set 25-16.

Undeterred, the team took the court and focused hard on serves. Kaitlyn Gulluscio kept the team communication up as she called for the ball, and swung hard on sets. Harper Congdon led the team with passing as the team rolled to a 25-14 win.

The start of the tie-breaker was a serving exposition by Sophie Clark. She jump-started the team with a 12-0 lead. Dariana Duran Alvarado helped with her more confident passing, and the third set victory and match win was an easy 25-6 win.

On Friday, Sept. 17, the squad faced a talented Hampton Bays team in a non-league match. Andrea Napoles is now qualified to play and her fast feet were a welcome addition. Unfortunately, Sophie Clark is now sidelined with an injury, so the seven athletes had to adjust to yet another starting rotation. Although Hampton Bay won the match 25-12, 25-13 and 25-16, the team met their goal of increasing the number of points scored in each set.

Varsity action

The varsity entered the Monday, Sept. 13 Greenport/Southold match a bit tired after the tournament two days prior. That, and the fact that they had beaten the Clippers in the tournament lulled the team into a false sense of complacency.

Lacking a sense of urgency, we let them take the first set 25-23. Stung, the Islanders turned up the energy. Despite very good GPO serves, we won three straight to take the match: 25-15, 25-19, 25-21.

Wednesday, Sept. 15 featured varsity’s longest bus ride of the season, traveling to Babylon.  The Panthers often match up well with us, and we were determined to make the long trip worth it. 

The hot gym ended up being the site of an intense back and forth match. Bella Springer had a great game at the net, with a team high 4 blocks. Olivia Overstreet hit the floor on defense, and Mary Gennari served very well in tough situations. The Islanders prevailed 25-23, 14-25, 25-21, 23-25, 25-22.

Two days later the team was back on the road for a non-league match with Hampton Bays. Despite a nice effort by Franny Regan on both offense and defense, the Baywomen took the match 25-19, 25-23 and 25-16.

Saturday, Sept. 18, the varsity had its second tournament in as many weekends. With work, family and other conflicts winnowing our ranks, only seven athletes boarded the bus to Pierson, facing a long day on the court. A mix of veteran and newer players, Alex Burns, Ariana Carter, Myla Dougherty, Lily Page, Dayla Reyes, Angelina Rice and Madigan Teodoru went on to play very well, exceeding expectations in nearly every way.

Every athlete was in every match for nearly the entire playing time, with some players never getting a rest at all. In pool play we faced East Hampton, Southampton and the talented Hampton Bays JV squad. Finishing with a 4-2 record in pool play, we had to play a tie breaker against East Hampton for the right to get to the semi-finals.

Throughout the day, coaches had mixed up lineups allowing for playing time. The Islanders had mixed up the lineup to give athletes experience at different positions, but with only seven players, we had no bench. While officially only six players are on the court, the libero specialty adds another spot, with most teams having a “starting seven.”

We chose the lineup which had fit the players the best, and started. East Hampton gave us a hand since they missed a few serves early on, but by mid-set things had evened out, and it was a point-by-point battle to the wire, with the Islanders emerging victorious in “overtime” 27-25.

We moved to the high school gym to a déjà vu situation: we were to play Hampton Bays. The Baywomen, fresh from their victory the night before, were justifiably confident, quickly claiming a 25-10 victory in set 1.

They were surprised when we dug in our heels and made a gritty comeback to take the second set 26-24, forcing the tie breaker. Digging deep, the Islanders fought to the last possible moment before dropping the decider 15-13. The Hampton Bays coach, noticeably impressed by the small squad with the big heart, complimented the team on their grit and perseverance.

Alex Burns was the X factor. Filling the big shoes of starter Franny Regan, Burns got her first varsity kill early in the day and went on to tally 15 kills on the day. Madigan Teodoru also stepped up big with her passing and defense. Sporting much improved confidence, Teodoru notched four assists as she set up Dayla Reyes for several crowd-pleasing backrow kills.

Ariana Carter and Lily Page are both accustomed to using their height to block, and rarely get to play defense in the back row. With the necessity to play all the way around, they impressed their teammates with their passing and diving saves.

The day was a great success, with the team supporting one another’s efforts throughout the 10 set marathon and confidence in one another growing by leaps and bounds. With two-thirds of our competition schedule still ahead it bodes very well indeed.

The next home matches are against Port Jefferson on September 24 and Smithtown Christian (JV only) on September 27.