Hawks putting pieces together

BEACON FALLS — The uncharacteristically slow start to Woodland High’s volleyball season is a distant memory after the Hawks’ recent hot streak.

Woodland (7-4) has reeled off five straight victories entering matches versus Wilby on Wednesday and at defending Class M state champion Seymour on Thursday The Hawks have come a long way after an 0-3 start to the season, their worst start in Jim Amato’s 11-year head coaching tenure.

“We’re getting to where we need to be,” Amato said. “Before, we were good, just not good enough. We’re just trying to right the ship. It’s like one of those puzzles, when you know you have all the pieces but you don’t know how to put them together. Now we’re starting to see the picture.”

Junior Steph Krebbs continues to lead the way. In last Friday’s 3-0 win over Watertown, she recorded a match-high 14 kills with three blocks. She’s been joined at the net by an improving Lexi Chabot, who added six kills in the win over the Indians.

Alyssa Lukeski and Julia Swiatek have also chipped in with strong contributions on defense and in the passing game.

“We’ve definitely seen Steph and Lexi Chabot starting to take over the net and making sure that everyone knows it’s theirs,” Amato said. “Our defense has gotten better with Swiatek and Lukeski, and the defense has strengthened our offense.”

Amato thought his team would be much better in the second half of the season than the first, and it appears as though the inexperienced Hawks — who have just one senior on the roster — might be a bit ahead of schedule.

The upcoming slate, though, will challenge them. After Thursday’s match at Seymour, they’ll host Ansonia (7-6) on Friday and Naugatuck (9-4) on Tuesday. A nonconference match at East Haven (11-3) will follow Wednesday, and a trip to defending Naugatuck Valley League champion Torrington (11-1) is set for next Friday.

Woodland lost to the Greyhounds and the Red Raiders in matchups earlier this season, but Amato expects that his squad will be better prepared to face those opponents a second time.

“They’re a young team, and they’re learning how to play at (varsity) speed,” Amato said. “They’re maturing into their roles.”