Naugy spikers preparing for season away from home
NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck volleyball team will be taking the show on the road this season due to the ongoing renovations at the Ed Mariano gymnasium.
The Greyhounds will embark on a 20-game schedule in the Naugatuck Valley League’s new three-division format this season as members of the Iron Division along with Torrington, Watertown, Wolcott and Woodland.
The division champion will be based on the best record against teams in the division. The three champions from the Iron, Brass and Copper divisions will meet with five at-large teams based on the best records in the NVL tournament to decide a league champion.
Naugatuck went into last season needing to fill the void of six seniors that graduated. They exceeded expectations going 16-4 and finishing in the NVL semifinals.
The Greyhounds find themselves in similar circumstances this season, losing six seniors to graduation. However, the five returning seniors played integral roles in helping Naugatuck reach the NVL semifinals.
“We lost almost all of our starters, but that doesn’t mean we are back at square one,” Naugatuck head coach Kevin Wesche said. “Several of our juniors last year gained a lot of varsity experience and played key roles in the team’s success.”
Naugatuck will be led by senior tri-captains Kara Klimaszewski, Lauren Burns and Erika Andreoli along with seniors Teree Perkins and Megan Warnke.
Klimaszewski will be up front and ignite the offense from the setter position. Burns and Andreoli will work the back row defense, as they did last season when the Greyhounds made some noise handing Class M state champion Woodland its only loss of the year.
Warnke will add to the defensive presence on the court and Perkins will be relied on as a middle hitter to bring returns back over the net. The Greyhounds won’t be shorthanded as they will utilize the skills of a junior class that goes five deep offering the team depth to stay competitive.
Alexandra Mezzo will be a valuable hitter in the middle with Jenna Massicotte serving as a defensive stopper. Alexa Blazas will show her setting skills along with being an addition to the front row. The Greyhounds will also benefit from the sister tandem of Kathryn and Nicole Healy. The sisters will provide a presence in the front row and capable hitters in the attack.
Naugatuck will also be looking to develop the talents of sophomores Olivia Rotatori and Emma Healy to fill out the varsity lineup.
Coach Wesche isn’t overly concerned that all the games will be on the road and the Greyhounds won’t have a place to call home.
“All the courts are the same size and the game is played the same no matter where you play,” Wesche said. “I think taking the show on the road might even bring us together as a team.”
Wesche said the Greyhounds are ready to take on the road ahead.
“The girls worked hard to get ready for the season going to camps and clinics and playing in a summer league. They are more than ready for the challenge that is ahead,” he said. “They are looking to continue what they started last year and remain competitive.”
Start the buses. The Greyhounds’ road journey begins Sept. 9 when they take on Woodland. Naugatuck then heads to Watertown Sept. 11 and finishes up the first week of the season against Holy Cross Sept. 12.