BEACON FALLS — Just a week into the high school volleyball season, Woodland coach Jim Amato was already in midseason form when asked to assess his Hawks.
“It’s like a puzzle,” Amato said. “We have all the pieces, but we’re trying to put it together without the picture on the box. We found all the corners and edges, but we’re working on the middle.”
The veteran coach was trying to say that he likes the components of his team, but there’s a long way to go before the Hawks can play at the level he wants to see.
Woodland went 2-2 in its first week of matches, with 3-1 victories over Oxford and Ansonia and 3-1 losses to nonleague foe Brookfield and Kennedy.
Amato singled out the play of setter Fatima Khalid, who reached the 20-assist mark in all four matches and totaled 14 aces in the two victories.
“Fatima Khalid is doing a great job facilitating our offense,” Amato said. “She’s moving the ball around like we haven’t seen in some time.”
Steph Krebbs, Lexie Chabot and Alyssa Lukeski have led the attack so far. Each member of the trio reached the seven-kill mark in matches against Brookfield and Ansonia, including 13 apiece for Krebbs and Chabot in the victory over the Chargers on Sept. 13.
Krebbs, who was the leading attacker for Woodland last season, has added a stronger defensive component to her game this fall.
“Steph Krebbs has worked hard on her defense,” Amato said. “She’s added blocking to her offensive output.”
Chabot continues to excel even though the coaching staff has moved her from the middle position to the outside, and Lukeski has improved her back-row defense and serving (16 aces in two wins). Amato also pointed to the play of Sydnie Overby, Rachel Poulos, Layne Cronin, Liz Triana and Xiu Xiu Sammis-McCoy as being early-season positives.
Amato said the main focus in the short-term will be improving defensively to allow for some more structured offensive production.
“We need to work on our serve receive,” Amato said. “We’re very good at recovering, but we need to have a chance to actually run our offense.”
The Hawks will visit Watertown on Tuesday and Crosby this Friday before hosting defending Naugatuck Valley League champion Seymour on Sept. 25.