NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck High volleyball team has posted an 86-34 mark over six seasons under head coach Kevin Wesche, reaching the Naugatuck Valley League tournament semifinals twice and playing into the second round of the state tournament four times.
Entering his seventh year at the helm, this year’s team may be the most experienced in Wesche’s tenure.
“We graduated three very skilled players in Hailey Deitelbaum, Shannon Burns and Sarah Wisniewski,” Wesche said. “But I’m pretty confident with the experience we have coming back.”
Naugatuck will be led by senior captains Hailey Russell, Brielle Behuniak and Jordyn Hunt, all of whom have three years of varsity experience. Last year’s back row stalwart Yahna Ancheta and middle row player Aubrey Lyons give the Greyhounds five seniors to lead the pack.
A 14-6 campaign last season ended abruptly with a quarterfinal loss to St. Paul in the NVL tournament and a first-round loss in the Class L state tournament to East Haven.
“We certainly want to see our team move along a lot further in the NVL and the states than we have over the past few years,” Wesche said. “I’m pretty excited about the talent and experience level we have coming back.”
“I think we are at a point where we can compete with the upper echelon of Seymour, St. Paul and Woodland,” he added.
Naugatuck will also have a couple of difference-makers in the front row in juniors Alyssa Roberts and Cara Bergin to go along with the overall athleticism of sophomore Kaylee Jackson, who was a mainstay in the rotation last season as a freshman.
Wesche said assistant coaches Stefani Barry and Maribeth Ford put together a strong scrimmage schedule to get the Greyhounds ready for the start of the season.
“I expect some good things this season,” Wesche said. “They all know what is to be expected of them and how the system works. On the court they are all familiar with each other and are there to back each other up.”
Naugatuck starts the season on Friday at Crosby and will host Pomperaug on Saturday.