There are many benefits to being an athlete. Bond with teammates. Skill improvement. Become more physically fit. Choosing where to dine at away games.
Twenty-four hours before the team boarded the bus for a long drive to Port Jefferson on September 22, it had already been decided that Chick-Fil-A was the stop of choice for post-game dinner. .
The home game against Ross School on Tuesday, September 20 did not require a decision for dinner. The games against the Ravens were cause for celebration for the JV and a bit of frustration for the university.
The afternoon before, Team JV had swept the purple side of the Greenport/Southold Clippers, with great contributions from all players. However, two starters were ineligible for the game against Ross, so coach Andrejack had devised a new lineup and the team rose to the challenge.
Tola Bliss, normally an outside hitter, was moved to midfield where she proved that position on the pitch didn’t matter as long as she could walk away, scoring 7 kills, while maintaining her blazing serves and scoring 15 aces.
Elli Schack grows more confident, putting in increasingly well-placed sets while also scoring 2 kills. Grace Katherine-Lim contributed with a nice put-over on a broken play, while Dariana Duran Alvarado had 4 aces.
Lili Kuher, normally a defensive specialist, decided to play in all six rotations as an outside hitter. She worked hard on her serve and was rewarded by scoring a point from the service line.
Keili Osorio Lopez and Victoria Hernandez also spent time at the outside hitter position against the Ravens, contributing to the 25-23, 25-20, 25-10 sweep.
On Thursday, September 22, the team boarded the bus for Port Jefferson, their Chick-Fil-A apps ready.
The Royals are a good team. Mae Brigham showed her versatility by handling set-up duties in the first set, then moved into midgame in the next two. Miranda Marcello also played in the middle as Quinn Sobejana’s big shove on a served serve sparked the team.
Johanna Kaasik took over in sets 2 and 3, and Lauren Gibbs showed her excellent timing at net by returning a short serve to surprise the Royals. The team adapted a lot to the new situations, but in the end Port Jeff won the match 25-14, 25-10 and 25-22.
The college team came out of the Sept. 20 game against Ross a bit frustrated. During the 4-set confrontation, we scored the most kills in a match this year, proof that our passing and attacking efforts are paying off.
Unfortunately, our inconsistency on the service line, averaging more than 5 missed serves per set, derailed the close game.
The Islanders and Ravens are in a year of rebuilding, with our athletes demonstrating improving skills and team concepts. Setters Maddie Springer and Sophie Clark pulled out all the stops, resulting in a bruised knee for Clark and a wet uniform for Springer.
The Islanders won the first set 25-17. Margaret Schultheis released her newly improved high-speed serve in set two and Mary Gennari showed excellent timing on a great block in set 3, while Kaitlyn Gulluscio unearthed a hard shot from Ross which landed on the other side of the net for a point.
Unfortunately, we lost those sets 25-20.
In the final set, Alex Burns took a nice reception with his hands, quickly passing the ball to our setters. Andrea Napoles had 5 kills, while Springer scored 8 kills and Clark hit for 7 kills and dished out 11 assists.
In the middle of the set, we lost a series of points on serves and lost 10-17. But the Islanders didn’t give up, collapsing to fall just before forcing a deciding set at 25-23. Lessons have been learned and the rematch will be an exciting opportunity to even the score.
On Thursday, September 22, the team traveled to Port Jefferson unable to field Sophie Clark. The Royals finished top of the league last year and still look pretty polished this year.
Still looking to find a silver lining, the team took the opportunity to learn something new and transition to a single passer model, where Madison Springer led the field the entire game.
Port Jeff lived up to their bill, mixing up the attack, keeping our defenders on their toes. Gennari did a great job adapting to the new style, seeing and covering lots of tips. Harper Congdon is developing quickly to read the offense and was called up to be the libero for this match.
Mackenzie Speece did a good job being in the middle of the front, forcing batters to go over or around his block. Kat Austin, a new player this year, is so much more confident on the court. Each match gives him a chance to improve his striking. A resounding solo block in Port Jeff was the crowning achievement of a great match for her.
The last point of the match showed a long rally with a lot of jostling. Despite losing 25-12, 25-7, 25-14, the team showed great effort, determined not to give up.
Although the outcome of the Royals’ visit to the gymnasium did not result in a victory, the teams have been heartened by the improvements they are seeing as they head into the second half of the league schedule. Both teams are more confident, adaptable and knowledgeable.
Plus, there were waffle fries, sweet frozen drinks, and Chick-Fil-A sauce before the long drive home.
Look forward: Come support your local team on Friday, September 30, as we take on a tough Hampton Bays team. Save the date of Thursday October 6th for our annual Dig Pink vs. Pierson match. This special event raises funds and awareness for breast cancer.