Lady ‘Canes captivate Block Island, and beyond

Thu, 11/21/2019 - 5:00pm

A downstairs room at the Island Free Library was full of supporters of the Block Island Girls Varsity Volleyball team in their quest to capture the state Division III Girls Volleyball championship. It was 12:15 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 17, and more were pouring in to an already-packed room. There were cries of “They’ll get it!” Just as the game got underway, there was a problem getting the Smart TV to broadcast the game. A laptop was quickly delivered by Youth Services Librarian Morgan Walsh from upstairs. Quick-thinking Deputy Town Clerk Millie McGinnes got the action started with a link through her cellphone, and audio of the game came through.

Leaning in for a listen, we hear the announcer comment on Block Island’s team having a high percentage of proficient servers. St. Raphael’s continues to lead in the first set.

Firing up a remote speaker, the group huddled around just like in the old days of radio to listen to the live action. The first set ends with a mis-call that leads to both teams ready to serve, but in the end, it was St. Ray’s win at the end of the first set.

A younger recruit tries her hand to connect the video action to the big screen.

Second set. The announcers compliment the achievement of Block Island’s team, having been in existence for only two seasons, and earning a chance at a Division championship. Cheers for points made as the library staff and volunteers continue to try the video connection with different devices.

Seven to six — ours!

The announcers use words like “brick wall” to describe a series of blocks by the Hurricanes. A long volley led to an 11-11 tie. Still unable to view the match, the room begins to take on the mood of the match itself. A time-out by Hurricanes Coach Rob Martin gives the staff another 30 seconds to try another device, switch cords and log in. New viewers walk into the room.

Tied at 17. Tied at 18. The announcers describe Block Island fans as “rumbling in the bleachers.” At 24-21, with Block Island behind, there is a commercial break that leaves us on pins and needles. 24-22. We’re all rooting, but the second set goes to St. Ray’s.

Third set. We’re tied at two points each. The fans tighten in around the little speaker that sits on the back of the couch.

1 p.m.: Tied up at eight points. From the announcer we hear, “This team just doesn’t give up” and the attendees at the library responds, “And neither do we!”

1:05 p.m.: Livestreaming! This is the crucial third set. 16-12, St. Ray’s. The announcers say, “The Hurricanes remain tough.” 21-13. “Hurricanes refusing to give in.” “Just like their librarians!” says Library Director Kristin Baumann.

But, with a round of applause, the Hurricanes were closed out in three sets.

The match and the gathering end with much jubilation and praise for the team’s efforts and accomplishment as Division finalists.

“They did great getting there,” said resident Kim Gaffett. “Just listen to the commentators.”

Marguerite Donnelly said that listening to the match “made it more of a shared experience.”

The 2019 Block Island Girls Varsity Volleyball team, as state Division III finalists, gave a reason and purpose for their island fans to unite and feel part of the experience.