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10/21/15 4:30pm
ELEANOR P. LABROZZI PHOTO | Kenna McCarthy leading her teammates  onto the floor.

ELEANOR P. LABROZZI PHOTO | Kenna McCarthy leading her teammates onto the floor.

Seven really is a lucky number, especially for the Shelter Island School’s volleyball program.

With a win at Port Jefferson Tuesday, the varsity team claimed an incredible seventh consecutive undefeated league championship for the Island. But, actually, luck had nothing to do with it. Skill, teamwork and heart carried the Blue and Gray to victory. (more…)

09/23/13 11:24am

JIM COLLIGAN PHOTO | Both the JV and varsity Shelter Island girls volleyball teams are filled with spirit and drive this season.

Progress not perfection — that’s the mantra for young teams.

Shelter Island’s JV girls volleyball team is making steady strides in their confidence and execution of skills. The team’s demeanor and spirit on Wednesday, September 18 was in sharp contrast to just two days prior against Pierson. Whether it was the home court or just a bit more confidence, their positive attitude was contagious. The outcome of the match was the same, a loss, but instead of hanging their heads, the team found the silver lining.

The Port Jefferson Royals had arrived with an Island-sized squad (only seven athletes suited up for the match) but we knew not to underestimate them. They obviously knew each other well and their play was well coordinated.

The first set was a back and forth battle, featuring 13 ties. A far more confident Taylor Rando was running the court as setter, while the Shawna Goody, still under the weather, had to sit out another match. Elizabeth Dunning showed her leadership as she served, then stepped in to pass a perfect ball to Taylor who set up Colibri Lopez for the kill. An extra long volley, which had the coaches on the edges of their seats, ended with an Amira Lawrence kill to tie up the set at 14-14. Melissa Frasco made a diving save, lifting the ball just over the net to put the blue and grey up 21-20. However, the Royals had the final say in that set, winning “in extra innings” 28-26.

The second set was fairly even until Port Jeff’s No. 5 stepped to the serving line. Her tough, deep serves were difficult to handle, and despite adjustments, she added seven straight points to give the Royals a 25-15 win.

While not happy with the result of the previous two sets, the home team stepped on the court with their heads held high and with a resilient spirit. Alexis Palaki gave the coaching staff a scare, asking to be removed from the court, holding her left thumb and wrist following a terrific hustling save. Her thumb had been hyperextended, but after some recovery time with an ice bag she was ready to go. Despite a 18-25 final score, the team was happy to hold the troublesome No. 5 server to just one point.

The young Island squad is improving each day, and when these two teams meet again in October, I think the Royals will be in for a surprise.

The varsity squads met following the JV match. The Royals long time coach is very relaxed and his team reflected that low key approach.

Meanwhile, the Island girls were a bit nervous. With MeMe Lawrence now qualified to play in matches, we’ve added another experienced player to the ranks. Her setting abilities allow us some flexibility in our offensive systems, but it also means we need to remember who is setting. Despite a few miscues, it went well, allowing Kenna McCarthy the chance to swing — she registered four kills on the match.

One thing I was disappointed with was our serving consistency. There were eight missed serves in the first set alone, with a total of 15 on the match. Each missed serve gives an uncontested point to the other team. As you might gather, we have done a lot of service in practices since.

Kelly Colligan was impressive in her passing and defensive role. With Kelly’s excellent handling of the first contact, we were able to run a sneaky combination play we had been working on, while Erin Colligan swung hard at sets all night, registering a team-high eight kills. Bre Rietvelt impressed me with five service aces, and her more consistent hitting was another bonus. The team jumped out to a 19-8 lead before three missed serves in a row allowed Port Jeff to wiggle back in, cutting the Island’s lead to 20-14 before a final surge let us take the first set 25-17. A sloppy start in the second game was redeemed as our serving improved. Logan Pendergrass served eight straight to shut the door on a 25-12 set.

On the edge of elimination, the Royals buckled down, while the blue and grey seemed to lose focus. Normally strong-armed Margaret Michalak had an off night, but the team rallied around her, picking up the slack.

I love that all players want to be on the court. When someone is subbed out to allow for rest or a specialized player, you know she can’t wait to get back on the court. This competition is great for practices as each player tries to push herself and compete for more court time.

The varsity squad has now faced half of our league foes. While no one can predict the future and teams will certainly improve over the season, we are hoping that our rebuilding year is looking more like a “reloading” year. Hard work on and off the court and team chemistry will be key, but I’m confidently looking for our season to stretch into the playoffs again this year.