By Benito Vila
It’s never easy to play the top of the league back-to-back, but that’s what the Pierson volleyball Lady Whalers were up against this week. Despite some solid play, the girls found themselves playing from behind in both matches and saw their league mark drop to 2-4.
Fortune was not kind to the team Friday, undefeated Shelter Island prevailing in the Pierson gym 3-0 in a Homecoming game. That match saw the Lady Indians take game one 25-11 and game two 25-12.
In game three, the Lady Whalers took an early 7-5 lead, battled to keep the score close before Shelter Island pulled away at 20-18 on their way to a 25-19 win.
Afterwards, Pierson coach Stacey Springer praised her team’s determination not to give in. “We’re learning what it takes to be more mentally tough. Playing a team like that, my girls can see what it means to stay in the game and fight and move for every point.”
Coach Springer noted a number of “club” or travel team players on the Lady Indian squad, knowing she only has one, Samara Finkenauer, on her team. “Getting more girls to play more is a big part of what we’re trying to do with our program. It pays off when players absolutely know who’s where and who can do what on the court. That kind of communication is key to winning.”
A Late Start
At Center Moriches Monday, the Lady Whalers took the court an atypical start time, coming on after the JV. The late start worked against the team, the Lady Devils taking games one and two, 25-15 and 25-13.
“We were out of sync for whatever reason. It took a while for us to get into the match and we were having trouble communicating,” said Coach Springer. “Before game three, I assigned defensive positions and kept calling them out before every serve.”
That adjustment seemed to help, Pierson taking that game 25-19. The fourth game was closely played but the Lady Devils prevailed 28-26.
“We had a couple of calls go the other way late or else we might have forced a game five, recounted Coach Springer. “In all, it was much better than game one and two. And it showed the girls some of the adjustments we can make.”
“By the fourth game we had a lot more communication. Dominique Clark, our libero, took charge of the defense. Katelyn [Grdski] and Tanasha [Clark] helped Xylia [Serafy] in setting and Samara and Katelyn came through with good hits when we needed them.”
Ross comes into the Pierson gym Friday at 4:30 p.m., for what Coach Springer expects to be close match. On Wednesday, the girls go to Port Jefferson looking to avenge a 3-1 loss last month. Next Saturday, the team will be on the road early to play Mercy at 11:45 a.m.
This week, the Lady Whalers are also finalizing plans for a “Dig Pink” fundraiser to be held at Pierson as part of their match with Greenport on October 19. Dig Pink is a national volleyball-based breast cancer awareness program the girls first participated in at Greenport last year, the two programs agreeing to pool their efforts again this year.