By Ken Morse, Citizen’s News
There are many obstacles to overcome to be successful on a volleyball court. Players need to be fearless diving for a dig or leaping for a kill.
Health measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have added another challenge in that all players must wear masks in the thick of the action. Though the Naugatuck and Woodland volleyball teams have made it look like second nature.
Naugatuck faced its biggest test of the season Oct. 20 against Wolcott, which was the first team to force a fifth game against the Greyhounds. The Greyhounds escaped Wolcott with the 3-2 (25-16, 25-17, 26-28, 23-25, 15-11) victory.
“We have come a long way in a short period of time,” Naugatuck head coach Kevin Wesche said. “We still have a little way to go before I can say they have met or exceeded my expectations. Our motto is, ‘in pursuit of excellence.’”
Kaylee Jackson had 15 kills, 15 points and eight aces to lead Naugy. Lindsey Walsh had 16 assists and 15 points, Nadia Cestari had 12 assists and nine points, and Sam Mullin added 12 points and nine digs.
“Lindsey (Walsh) is a competitor,” Wesche said. “She doesn’t want to let her teammates or coaches down. As a senior captain she helps motivate others with her positive attitude.”
Naugatuck wrapped a couple of 3-0 wins over St. Paul and Torrington around the Wolcott victory to improve to 8-0.
The Oct. 16 win against St. Paul was closer than the final score indicated, as the Falcons pushed Naugy in each game. Jackson scored 11 points to go along with four kills and four aces. Felicia Salvati and Cara Bergin added four kills each.
Walsh led Naugy with 17 points and nine assists Oct. 22 against Torrington. Mullin added 13 points.
“Opponents seem to be a little more motivated when they face us,” said Wesche about his defending NVL champion Greyhounds. “I think the more we are challenged the better we will be prepared as the season progresses.”
“Both St. Paul and Wolcott have improved immensely,” he added. “We had a host of players step up at crucial times and the team truly comes together when their backs are against the wall.”
Woodland had a week off before an Oct. 22 rematch with unbeaten Seymour, which beat the Hawks 3-0 earlier this month.
Seymour earned another 3-0 win over the Hawks, who fell to 4-2 on the season. Elayna Beutel had three digs, three kills and two blocks for Woodland. Kylie Bulinski dished out 10 assists and made 16 digs. Sydney Harrison added three kills and two digs.
The Hawks put together a run of three straight 3-0 sweeps — Oct. 8 vs. O’Brien Tech, Oct. 13 vs. Ansonia and Oct. 15 vs. Oxford — between the two matches with the Wildcats.
Woodland is set to play O’Brien Tech on Oct. 27, before a match against Ansonia on Oct. 29 and another with O’Brien Tech on Nov. 2.
Naugatuck is set to play Holy Cross on Oct. 27, before a match against Watertown on Oct. 29 and another with Holy Cross on Nov. 2.