The Shelter Island junior high volleyball team completed their season in early January.
The team, coached by Kristin Andrejack, began practices in mid-November and consisted entirely of new players. None of the 8th graders played last year, so there was a steep learning curve for everyone. However, the team saw incredible growth and had lots of fun throughout their nine-match season.
On Monday, Dec. 19, the team traveled to Southold for their first away match. They had seen the Southold Red team on Nov. 28, but neither Sadie Green-Clark nor Kyra Sciacchitano had yet qualified to play. This time the team was nine players strong.
Rosie Hanley played the entire first set at Southold, bringing her kind, positive spirit to the gym. She and the rest of the team have set a great precedent of supporting one another. Lily Brigham showed her much improved passing, and like Hanley, is a very supportive teammate. Kyra Sciacchitano has really made great strides as a player and her hustling efforts on the court are great to see.
Sadie Green-Clark has a steady and strong serve, and she’s moving with much more confidence. Lily Potter loves to set, and is also playing some heads-up defense. Likewise, Juliana Medina has been counted on for her tough serves all season, and she’s also developed a leadership role on the team, incorporating good passes into the mix.
The Southold team had several athletes that served underhand. The Islanders are all expected to attempt the more advanced (and more difficult to master) overhand serve. Shelter Island is prepping their athletes for the expectations of high school ball, and that challenge has worked to spark their competitive spirit.
The third set of the Southold match showed that the team is really making strides. At the beginning of the set, the girls got together in a huddle, encouraging one another as Coach Andrejack turned in the line-up. The athlete-led inspiration must have worked-— there were many more volleys using multiple hits. In a not-legal-but-great-to-see play, the Islanders passed the ball three times, and then Lexi Bartilucci sent it over with a strong overhand swing. Unfortunately, only three hits are allowed, but it was great to see the girls’ excitement at the execution of the aggressive play.
The game against Greenport Gold on Dec. 23 was the highlight of the season.
Not only did the Islanders win a set, their first of the season, but several players got their serves over, a major goal for the team. To the delight of their teammates, Danielle Rasmussen and Kylie Kuhr, who have been working hard all season, served numerous points.
The girls were so happy they were dancing on the court.
Coach Andrejack said this team has been great fun to coach. They are happy and support one another well, rejoicing when others make progress. That is the mark of a true team member.
I saw a couple of the 8th graders in the gym recently, and they expressed how much they were looking forward to playing at the junior varsity level next fall. We’ll be happy to welcome them to the high school program.
For now, these athletes are trading in their kneepads and transitioning to basketball. More training in athletics, team spirit and having fun. That’s the name of the game!