Shelter Island's Sophie Clark returns the Ross volley in the...

Shelter Island's Sophie Clark returns the Ross volley in the Suffolk Class D final on Monday at East Hampton. Credit: George A Faella

Sophie Clark and Mackenzie Speece wanted this win badly. Shelter Island girls volleyball won two sets 25-15 and 25-19 and lost the ensuing two 21-25 and 23-25. They reset. The team with only three wins almost let the championship slip away.

Clark didn’t let that happen. 

Despite losing both regular season games to Ross, Shelter Island won 3-2 in the Suffolk Class D championship.

“I think the possibility of losing definitely rattled us,” Clark said. “Some of them have very hard hits, so when [the ball] comes back, sometimes we’re not prepared.”

Clark tried to remain calm as she took her turn as the server in set five with a 6-4 lead. Deep breaths in … and out, she told herself.

It seemed to work for Clark. She rattled off six straight points, including three aces, to put the Islanders up 12-4. Allowing just two more points, the Islanders closed the set and match with a 15-6 win.

All the lackluster energy Speece said the team had was far gone at this point. They returned to their demeanor from sets one and two.

“When the score is down on us, we tend to get bummed out and lose that motivation,” Speece said. “When we’re up or when I was getting aces, we all came together. We were jumping. We were screaming.”

Speece was a major factor in those first two sets while she served. Once she began her turn serving, the 14-14 tie broke into a 23-14 lead. Speece recorded four aces and two kills within the stretch.

She also earned two consecutive aces in the second and fifth sets. Serving was actually difficult for Speece earlier in the season, but since she switched styles, she’s found her rhythm.

“I really worked hard this season to improve them, and then I started jump serving which was more consistent,” Speece said. “It’s what feels natural now, so I was able to calm myself down. Because sometimes when I’m serving, I get a little shaky.”

Head coach Cindy Belt and the Islanders (3-13) will move on to the state regional semifinals where they will play Mount Academy on Wednesday at Bard College.

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