NAUGATUCK — Motivation can be a funny thing. Naugatuck head volleyball coach Fred Scheithe found that out on Tuesday night.
After Naugatuck struggled on serve in game two against Wilby, Scheithe made an offer to his team.
“He told us he’d buy us dinner if we got every serve in during the third game,” Naugatuck senior Catie Garrett explained.
The Greyhounds almost pulled it off en route to a 25-7 win and a three-game sweep over the Wildcats in the season opener for both teams. Naugatuck won the other two games, 25-14 and 25-18.
“Food can be a great motivator,” Scheithe said with a smile.
Scheithe’s offer loosened up the group and made a difference with the players.
“When we’re having fun, we tend to flow better,” said Garrett, who had six kills in the victory. “We score more points, our hits are on, and our serves are on.”
That was the case in the third game versus Wilby.
Senior Julia Longo (17 service points, six aces and six kills) started the scoring with six consecutive service points. After trading points with the Wildcats, senior Alexis Granahan served seven straight points to give Naugy a 14-1 lead.
Granahan posted a match-high 18 service points and seven aces, along with five kills.
Senior Jessica Webber (five kills) helped Naugatuck regain serve control by slamming a kill off an assist by senior Lindsay Witkoski (11 service points) to give Naugy a 16-2 edge in the game.
The third game proved an early test for Naugatuck, even if the score made it appear easy.
Just to tweak his team during the third game, Scheithe said he asked every player the same question before she grabbed the ball to serve.
“I asked them, ‘Do you want to serve?’” Scheithe said. “Just to see if the pressure would bother them.”
Naugatuck’s Andrea Granahan and Melissa Miller added two aces apiece among the final points of the game.
The win came after a positive showing at the Staples Jamboree last weekend against stiff competition. Naugy faced Jonathan Law, Staples, Stratford and other Class LL teams.
Scheithe said his team, which he admits lacks height, performed well. It earned a win over Jonathan Law and a tie against Staples, two of the top teams there.
“We held our own against some big teams,” Scheithe said.
According to Scheithe, Naugatuck has at least two key advantages, a solid middle defensive game and years of experience. The Greyhounds feature 10 seniors—the same squad that went undefeated as a freshmen unit.
And there’s the fun factor. The Garnet and Grey tend to play better when they’re enjoying themselves on the court. Then again, playing well can also lead to good times, according to Garrett.
“Winning is fun,” she added.