BEACON FALLS — In the last four years, the Woodland girls volleyball program has an 86-14 record with a state title and four straight trips to the state semifinals. The Hawks went 21-3 last year and lost to the eventual state champ Waterford in the semifinals.
Make no mistake, the Hawks are not dwelling on the past to prepare for the upcoming year.
“I told the team we’re starting the year at 0-0,” said Woodland head coach Jim Amato, now in his 11th year at the helm. “Success is earned.”
It’s a point made very clear given the run of success for the Hawks. Woodland is only one of three schools to reach the state semifinals each of the last four years.
Woodland opened the season with their first practice on Aug. 25 with a much different team than last season. Gone are six seniors, including NVL tournament MVP senior Cameron Caswell, front row standouts Carla Piccolo, Sam White and Jenna Boncal, along with Gina Farina and Ruth Costanza, who were a part of two NVL titles along with the victories at the state level.
The Hawks do return a core group of seniors with experience at the varsity level.
Seniors McKenna Cronin and Maddie Hupprich both saw action in the state semifinals last year against Waterford. Hupprich was called on for her serving, and Cronin for her hitting.
This year, Hupprich will be called on to be the primary setter. Cronin will get more chances to hit.
Another senior, Ally Mayne, will be in the libero position and provide stability to the back row.
Seniors Emily Brouillette and Jen Triana will also be factors in the front row. Brouillette will look to be more aggressive, as will Triana on the opposite side.
Look for another set of hitters, Julia Swiatek, Nicole Desiderio, Lindsey Gabianelli and Kate Minutillo to also be in the mix.
Amato also noted the progression of sophomore Stephanie Krebbs, who will look to impress in the middle as a hitter and blocker.
Before their first match, the Hawks are finding ways to make practices competitive. Even the second team plays at a high level, Amato said.
“It’s a new beginning,” Amato said.
The Hawks will play at Torrington on Sept. 9 to open the season.