Naugatuck volleyball starting from scratch

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It’s time to rebuild for the Naugatuck High School girls’ volleyball team.

After losing all six starting players—plus the first two players off the bench—to graduation, the Greyhounds have been left with only two players with any varsity game experience at all.

The team will lean heavily on these two relatively seasoned players and the new setters, front-row players and back-row players will look to learn from them.

“It’s a rebuilding year for sure,” head coach Fred Scheithe said. “We have very good athletes though, two kids with some varsity game experience from last year in Danni Strower and Rene Augustine, both of which are captains. They offer something to the program because they’ve been there a little bit, but everybody else is brand new.”

Scheithe is not overly worried about the inexperienced players the team will field each match; he feels the players have the skill set to adapt well to the sport and possess a great possibility of success.

“The thing we have going for us is we’re athletic, and athletes learn how to play the sport pretty quick,” Scheithe said. “How quickly they come together as a group will determine how successful we’ll be.”

The new-look team will face its first tests this week when they take on Terryville and Pomperaug in scrimmages and then head to Staples High School for a 14-team preseason “jamboree.”

“The jamboree will be great,” Scheithe said. “We don’t face teams like that consistently and it will be great for us to get the work in. After this week, we will have a good indication of where we will be when we start the season next week.”

When the season does get underway next week, the Hounds will, as always, be focused on punching a ticket to both the state and N.V.L. tournaments, a goal Scheithe said is a given each and every season. He also challenges his girls to constantly improve with every performance.

“Our goal is that every day we step on the court we are a little bit better,” Scheithe said. “After our scrimmage Thursday, I want to step on the court and be a little bit better Friday. If everyone gets a little bit better, then I’m confident that this team will progress well.”

Scheithe will also be looking for strong performances out of the other tri-captain, Nikki DeAngelo, who will be a setter; Jess Buckley, a junior who is coming off a strong preseason; Courtney Quarrels who will bring some height to the Hounds; and Sarah Chandler, who looks to be promising in her sophomore campaign.

However the season goes this year, Scheithe wants to be sure of one thing: that the players have fun. In an effort to make the sport enjoyable, the team plans a number of events together, including pizza parties, bowling nights at Thomaston Lanes if they are having a tough week and need to get away from the court, movie nights and make-your-own sundae bars hosted by Scheithe and an October trip to the University of Connecticut to watch the women’s volleyball team compete in Big East play.

“The most important thing is having fun and playing together as a unit,” Scheithe said. “It’s just a game. If we’re not having fun, then I don’t care how talented we are, we’re not going to be successful; you have to have fun. Positivity brings about good results. The teams that get along the best are the ones that are successful.”