‘Hounds ready to step up

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Naugatuck volleyball captains, from left, Alexa Blaza, Ally Mezzo and Jenna Massicotte will lead the Greyhounds on the court this season. –LUKE MARSHALL
Naugatuck volleyball captains, from left, Alexa Blaza, Ally Mezzo and Jenna Massicotte will lead the Greyhounds on the court this season. –LUKE MARSHALL

NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck volleyball team has been on the type of a roll the past two seasons that is difficult to attain. The Greyhounds have compiled a 32-14 record in the two seasons that Kevin Wesche has been head coach.

Many of the key players from those squads graduated this spring, including Erika Andreoli, Kara Klimazewski, Lauren Burns, Teree Perkins and Megan Warnke. Now, it is up to a new group of players to keep the winning ways going — a group that Wesche says is definitely up to the task.

“With what I have seen in the first five days of practice and scrimmages I feel the void is rapidly being closed,” Wesche said.

Wesche said this group of girls is ready to step up because the players from the class of 2015 showed them what it takes to win.

“The class of 2015 provided a tremendous amount of leadership by example demonstrating how to be competitive and create scoring opportunities,” Wesche stated.

Wesche said that he has many key returning players, starting with his three senior captains: Alexa Blazas, Ally Mezzo and Jenna Massicotte.

“Alexa, Ally and Jenna are the three senior captains that gained valuable varsity experience last season,” Wesche said. “Their leadership, intensity and skills will help lead the younger players on and off the court.”

Other key returning seniors include outside hitter Nicole Healy, outside hitter Kathryn Healy, defensive specialist Samantha Morin and defensive specialist Alyssa Barry.

Also returning to the squad with another year of experience under their belts are junior middle blocker Olivia Rotatori, junior middle blocker Taylor Hide, junior defensive specialist Emma Healy, junior setter Kelly Murphy, junior defensive specialist Floraine Evardo and sophomore defensive specialist Molly Kennedy.

Wesche said all of these returning players have matured greatly and have gained confidence through their experience.

This confidence was boosted in last season’s state second round game against RHAM, which was undefeated and the defending state champion. Even though the ‘Hounds lost 3-0, Wesche said, his squad learned an important lesson.

“They learned that they could compete with some of the traditional power houses in the state,” Wesche said. “This was demonstrated late in the contest after a slow start. But it is something they remember and are trying to overcome early by not getting down early, and trying to make a comeback.”

Wesche said the team can again be at the top of the league this season, as long as they reach his expectations, which he says are “to fight for every point and be even more aggressive than we were in the past.”

Naugatuck is scheduled to open the season at home Sept. 11 at 6 p.m. against Woodland, which has reached the state semifinals three years in a row.