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Young volleyball players build confidence

When the junior high volleyball team’s athlete-selected word of the day is “progress,” you know things are on the right track.

The team has now played its second and third matches of the season, and the Nov. 29 game against Greenport Purple was their best showing yet. Serving continues to be the team’s Achilles heel, but several players are oh-so-close to getting their serves over.

There are many signs of progress. The team continues to show nice ready positions, and players are now more vocal. Communication is key in volleyball, so calling “out” or “balls up” on serve receive is reinforcing the idea that you need to watch the ball and always be on the move. 

Sadie Green-Clark and Kyra Sciacchitano are still getting their practices to be able to play in games, but the seven athletes who have been on the court are definitely showing more confidence.

Juliana Medina has emerged as a team leader from the service line. She got serves over in every set against the Greenport Purple squad, including four in a row in the third set. Lily Brigham made her coach proud as she tracked a ball sent over by the other team to the sideline, moving into position to play it before calling “out” and letting it drop for a Shelter Island point.

Danielle Rasmussen and Lexi Bartilucci both are attentive as the ball is volleyed back and forth, moving into position to play the ball, often successfully sending the ball back to the other side.

Lily Potter shows focus and determination on her serve, and I predict she will be successful in the next match or two. Kylie Kuhr always looks as though she is having fun on the court. She easily shrugs off any mistakes and then steps up to improve the next play. Rosie Hanley has a nice understanding of the game and is beginning to move more confidently in “whose ball is that?” plays.

Learning the ins and outs of sportsmanship is also important. Coach Andrejack advised the team about a pre-game incident in the hallway. Learning to walk away from a potential conflict takes self-confidence, something sports often helps build. School Board member Kathy Lynch is a big fan of youth sports, and she was in the stands with some younger students during the Greenport game. She was encouraging them to cheer supportively and to “be nice.”

The team continues to enjoy very nice support from family and friends. I have to smile as I hear positive messages from the stands: “You can do it!” “Go Lily!” “You’ve got this, Rosie!”

Following the Greenport game, the happy team huddled for a wrap up. They quickly listed three things they are getting better at: Serving, passing and confidence in themselves.

The Islanders took those improving skills to their last home game against the Mattituck Blue squad on Tuesday, Dec. 6, before they start a five-game road trip. The away games will be at Greenport, Southold and Mattituck, so if you are off-island on the North Fork check out the schedule at sectionxi.org and stop on by to see our young athletes make even more progress.