It’s the time of year at Shelter Island School where it’s hard to get into the gym without a shoehorn.
There are five different teams practicing: 7th and 8th grade girls volleyball and boys basketball, cheer, and high school girls and boys basketball. The younger teams have already started their competitions, while the high school teams are just about to face their first opponents.
Coach Kristin Andrejack is coaching the volleyball team. She has a team of nine athletes, all of whom are new to the game.
Coach Andrejack has her eye on getting the team up to speed quickly. All athletes are challenged to serve overhand, which is difficult at first, but expected at the higher level.
She is having the players switch positions on the court to put players into an advantageous spot. Like basketball, which sorts players into guards, forwards and centers, volleyball, too, has areas on the court which are better for players with specific skills. Learning to move to the ball and understanding the sometimes obtuse rotation rules are all tasks that take a while to digest.
“I am so excited to be coaching the junior high volleyball team this year,” Coach Andrejack said. “The best part about this level of play is seeing the growth from our first practice to our last game. This group has already come so far just in our first week of practice. They are full of potential and eager to work hard towards our goals.”
With limited practices before the November 21 contest against the Greenport Gold squad, the team was understandably a bit apprehensive. With bows in their hair (or on their knee pads), the team took the court. The game was dominated by serving, a common thread for younger teams, especially early in the season. The home crowd was very supportive, cheering loudly for good rallies.
While Sadie Green-Clark and Kyra Sciacchitano are still accruing practices so they can play, the rest of the team was proud of their work on the court. Juliana Medina has the foundation of a good, solid serve and got a couple of points from the service line.
Kylie Wack-Kuhr, Lily Brigham and Lexi Bartilucci are already showing good ready positions and the ability to track and move to the ball. In a sport where the ball is always in motion, this is an important skill.
Lily Potter, Danielle Rasmussen and Rosie Hanley all made some good passes over the net, resulting in points. In a really nice play, the team used three touches to put the ball over — the goal of volleyball coaches everywhere.
As the varsity coach, I was pleased to see the team already showing good mechanics and readiness. Volleyball is a very skill-reliant sport, and learning things right at the start will pay many dividends down the road.
Additionally, the team was supportive of one another and despite the first game jitters, appeared to have had fun. The 7th and 8th grade sports model is about learning the game and getting used to being on an athletic team. While winning is always nice, it isn’t the ultimate goal.
Greenport won the match 3-0, but the Islanders will have a chance to avenge that loss later in the season. The team will play two different Greenport squads (Gold and Purple), Southold Red, and three separate Mattituck teams. Their home games are stacked at the beginning of the season — four in a row on the Island, then five on the road.
Come to the gym on Monday, November 28 (Southold Red) and Tuesday November 29 (Greenport Purple) or December 6 (Mattituck Blue) and cheer on our young volleyball athletes.