An ‘undefeatable’ state of mind

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Woodland’s Emily Brouillette hits the ball over the net Oct. 8 versus Kennedy in Beacon Falls. Woodland won, 3-2. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI
Woodland’s Emily Brouillette hits the ball over the net Oct. 8 versus Kennedy in Beacon Falls. Woodland won, 3-2. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

BEACON FALLS — After losing the third and fourth sets to Kennedy Oct. 8, the Hawks could have folded in the deciding fifth game. Except they didn’t.

The Hawks rolled to a 15-7 win in the fifth and showed that they have the focus to do special things this year.

Woodland players point to an approach that their head coach Jim Amato has reiterated —“undefeated is a record, undefeatable is a state of mind.”  The Hawks are believing.

“In the fifth set against Kennedy I believe that everyone stayed calm,” setter Carla Piccolo said. “We played as a team and kept each other’s heads up. Most importantly we didn’t play scared of losing, we played harder to win.”

Piccolo finished with 20 assists, 10 kills and three aces in the 3-2 win over Kennedy. Maddie Hupprich had 12 assists and seven aces, while McKenna Cronin had seven kills and Emily Brouillette posted five.

“The difference in the fifth set of our Kennedy game was our attitudes,” added outside hitter Samantha White said. “We forgot who we were for a short time, but we pulled ourselves together and just simply played the sport we love with the teammates we love, and finished it.”

Woodland’s Madeline Hupprich (6) hits the ball over the net Oct. 8 versus Kennedy in Beacon Falls. Woodland won, 3-2. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI
Woodland’s Madeline Hupprich (6) hits the ball over the net Oct. 8 versus Kennedy in Beacon Falls. Woodland won, 3-2. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

White finished with a team-high 15 kills and added eight digs and four aces. The Hawks also changed the game plan and adjusted to the situation — another mark of a successful team.

“I think what happened in the fifth set was we really minimized the mistakes we had in the third and forth set,” Jenna Boncal said. “We thought, let’s keep hitting at them in full speed and keep everything in the court.”

It worked. The Hawks defense has also been clicking. Cam Caswell finished with a team-best 25 digs and added 10 aces.

“Defense has always been something we’ll practice for hours,” Boncal said. “Without a good pass the setter won’t get a good set and a hitter won’t get a good hit to give us a point. Cameron Caswell is an excellent libero, she’ll make sure that no balls will touch the ground.”

Woodland’s Carla Piccolo (20) bumps the ball Oct. 8 versus Kennedy in Beacon Falls. Woodland won, 3-2. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI
Woodland’s Carla Piccolo (20) bumps the ball Oct. 8 versus Kennedy in Beacon Falls. Woodland won, 3-2. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

“The team has improved defensively because that’s our main focus at practices, we generate our offense from defense, so we use hitting drills where the setters set off of defensive passes,” White added. “Everyone is covering and passing well, defense is definitely our greatest strength.”

Woodland improved to 11-0 overall with a 3-0 sweep of Wolcott on Tuesday. Caswell had eight aces and 10 digs versus the Eagles. Hupprich added 16 assists and Piccolo had seven kills.

Despite having not suffered a loss, the Hawks are not settling. They have their sights on the next goal.

“We still have many things to work on and goals to achieve, like winning the Iron Division,” White said.

The Hawks are scheduled to play at Crosby on Thursday and host Ansonia on Friday. Looming next week is Seymour, which has started the season 11-0 and will host Woodland on Oct. 20.