This past week, co-ed middle school volleyball teams from around the Island participated in the annual playoff circuit, culminating in a 3-1 victory for Edgartown over West Tisbury on Thursday, May 4.
The championship crown was the cherry on top for the Edgartown School, which went 8-0 in the regular season, only losing two sets all year. They beat Oak Bluffs 3-1 in the semifinal on Tuesday, May 2, to clinch their spot in the championship game, held at the Edgartown School gym in front of a “full crowd.”
For Coach Gary Smith’s team, their keys to victory were their size and experience. Led by the towering Griffin Buehler, the Eagles fielded a corps of eighth graders that could set up plays, routinely spike the ball, and remain confident in the face of adversity.
“The other teams couldn’t match that,” Smith said. “When Buehler would go for the spike, you could hear a couple ‘uh-ohs’ from the stands.”
On Thursday, the Eagles won the first two sets, 25-12 and 25-23. In the third set, however, West Tisbury battled back and took one for themselves, 25-23. Refusing to let the Hawks get comfortable, Edgartown squashed their comeback bid in the fourth and final set, winning it all 25-14.
“It’s a streaky game, [but] they didn’t feel matched. My team is very confident in itself,” Coach Smith said. “Buehler stepped up, and Hailey Smith came through bigtime … She was my most solid and consistent player all season. I could count on her.”
Rounding out Edgartown’s starting squad were Kaniel Morgan, Ava Townes, Duda Rodrigues, and Nick Silva. All eighth graders, they were part of Edgartown’s undefeated championship team last year as well. They didn’t lose a single set all of that season.
Coach Smith attributed Edgartown’s success to his players’ commitment to the team, and the help of Assistant Coach Lily Robbins: “They showed up every day after school, even on half-days, and did a good job of remaining academically eligible.” He added, “After two years, they get pretty good … They could easily put together boys’ and girls’ teams up at the high school.”
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