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High expectations for Shelter Island School junior high volleyball team

Coach Kristin Sweeney is excited about the upcoming junior high volleyball season. With 15 players on the squad, she has excellent reasons to be optimistic. I’ve had a chance to look in on a couple of practices and am thrilled with the potential of this group.

Beyond the high numbers of athletes, not always a given in our small school, there is both physical prowess and contagious enthusiasm for the sport.

Junior high (officially known as “modified”) sports are for 7th and 8th grade students who are playing competitive scholastic sports for the first time. Last year the team was composed of all new athletes. Not even the 8th-graders had played before, so there was a big learning curve throughout the season.

This year many of the 8th-graders are returning and their leadership and knowledge of how much better the team gets throughout the season will help encourage and focus the team.

Shelter Island’s squad will be led by seven 8th-grade athletes. Lexi Bartilucci, Lily Brigham, Kylie Kuhr, Lily Potter and Danielle Rasmussen each played last year. Their knowledge of the sport and skills will make them natural leaders on the court.

Makayla Cronin and Natalie Mamisashvili played basketball last year and are trying their hand at a new sport. Their athleticism and quick feet should be a boon to the program.

The eight 7th-graders have been enthusiastic supporters of the volleyball program, coming to both junior high and high school games. Aisley Davidson, Ella Fundora, Jayla Jones, Regina Kolmogorova-Weisenberg, Michelle Martinez, Eliza McCarthy, Emily Shepherd and Elizabeth Weslek have already impressed their coach with some terrific serving.

Volleyball can be played at a high level at a young age. Chautauqua Lake, which won the Class D state title this past weekend, had both a 7th grader and 8th grader as starters. It was obvious that those athletes play club volleyball, proving that early training and enthusiasm definitely pays off.

The junior high league is focused on the North Fork. We play two squads each of Mattituck, Southold and Greenport.

The first three games come in a rush directly following the Thanksgiving break: Monday, Nov. 27, the team will travel to compete against the Mattituck Blue squad. The next day is the home opener against Southold Red. On Thursday, Greenport Purple visit the Island. All games are at 4:30 p.m.

Come support the team and get a sneak peek at what the future of volleyball at Shelter Island looks like!