NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck girls volleyball team has been the model of consistency with a 44-16 regular season record over the past three seasons. This year’s group of senior captains are looking to finish what they started.
Captains Kelly Murphy (setter), Olivia Rotatori (front row) and Emma Healy (defense) each bring different facets of the game to the court and have shown themselves to be leaders over the past three seasons.
Murphy will be the key to getting the offense into a flow. Rotatori is a proven threat in the front row and showed that with 14 blocks in a win against St. Paul last season. Healy is a fearless player who will do what it takes to keep the ball from hitting the floor.
“We did lose some experience from last year graduating seven seniors,” Murphy said. “But we do have some talented players coming back who proved to be assets to the team last year. So I think we are going to be very competitive.”
Naugatuck did lose a bulk of its playmakers with the graduation of Alexa Blazas, Ally Mezzo and Jenna Massicotte along with outside hitters Nicole and Kathryn Healy and defenders Alyssa Barry and Samantha Morin.
However, the Greyhounds have been consistent, averaging 15 wins a season over the past three seasons, and there is no reason why Naugatuck won’t be in the thick of things come tournament time.
“I think the 15-win mark is where our goal for the season begins,” Healy said. “But with the talent we do have coming back I think we can surpass that this year. We have the capability of being one of the top teams in the league.”
The play in the front row will be the key to success for the Greyhounds. Having the ability to hold off teams like Woodland, Seymour and Torrington begins in the front row and Naugatuck has some formidable players to meet that challenge.
“We have a lot of height in the front row,” said Rotatori, who came on late last season as a force at the net. “There is a lot of experience at the net and they all have good court awareness and I think that will be one of our strengths this season.”
Senior Taylor Hyde was a very effective front row player last season and Michelle Cordova will add to the senior leadership and experience for the Greyhounds. Junior Molly Kennedy is another experienced player coming back and is a playmaker in the middle row.
Juniors Alyssa Peterson, Briana Tavares and Caille Bergin are all impact front row players with Jayla Piazza and Aryana Powell providing support in the back row. Sophomore Hailey Deitelbaum will be an all-around player off the bench.
“We have a lot of players who are very competitive,” said Naugatuck head coach Kevin Wesche, who along with assistant coach Stef Barry has been putting the team through the paces of the preseason. “A lot of them played over the summer in leagues and clinics and I feel they are going to come back with a lot more experience. We have strong senior leadership and our three captains are like having three extra coaches out on the court.”
The Greyhounds will start the season at home Sept. 9 at 6 p.m. against Kennedy.