Irregular season didn’t dim Hawks’ desire

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By Kyle Brennan, Citizen’s News

Woodland’s Chelsea Donovan (2) hits the ball during a match against Ansonia on Nov. 5 at Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

BEACON FALLS — After the Woodland volleyball team concluded its regular season Nov. 5 with a fourth straight victory, Hawks coach Jim Amato bristled over the mere descriptor of the campaign just finished.

“There ain’t nothing regular about it,” Amato said.

Woodland posted an 8-2 record in Naugatuck Valley League Copper Division play. The Hawks’ only two losses came in 3-0 decisions against Seymour, a two-time reigning state champion.

The slate consisted of 10 more matches than originally imagined at one point — the volleyball season was in peril due to Connecticut Department of Public Health recommendations until the CIAC mandated that everyone in the gym, including players, wear face masks at all times.

Amato insisted that, aside from the irregularity of jumping and hustling with a piece of cloth over the face, the season was basically business as usual.

“If we weren’t wearing masks, which is now just commonplace, you wouldn’t know we weren’t just playing a normal regular season,” Amato said. “The intensity, desire to win, desire to get better, and drive for the game never left them and was never in question. Just in the manner in which they approach things shows how appreciative they are to have the opportunity to play the sport.”

Woodland used a 12-player rotation for much of the season. Amato cited middle hitter Elayna Beutel for her “domination at the net,” while Kylie Bulinski has provided “some incredible play” as an opposite-side hitter and setter. Libero May Dawes has been “all over the back row.”

Woodland’s Sydney Harrison (20) hits the ball during a match against Ansonia on Nov. 5 at Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

Amato also praised the play of Sydney Harrison, Megan Luxeder, Kalle Legassey, Amber Rosato, Alexandra Lisowski, Chelsea Donovan, Cassidy Doiron, Joanna Emin and Allyson Koliani.

The coach was most impressed with his team’s ability to jell this season.

“This season, despite all its trials and tribulations that the girls had to weather, they’ve come together as a team,” Amato said. “Their camaraderie has been incredible and their progress on the court has been a joy to be involved in, regardless of the circumstances.”

Woodland was the second seed in the divisional tournament before the Naugatuck Valley League canceled the postseason on Monday due to mounting concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated from the article published in the Nov. 12 edition of the Citizen’s News to include information on the Naugatuck Valley League canceling the postseason.