NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck volleyball team will use an aggressive approach to try to stay in the hunt in what should be a competitive Naugatuck Valley League race this fall season.
The Greyhounds will be trying to fill the void of six seniors that graduated last year when Naugatuck went 7-11 in the final year for Fred Scheithe, who retired after 24 years in the program.
New head coach Kevin Wesche takes over after several seasons as an assistant, so the transition phase should be relatively smooth. Naugatuck will look to the senior leadership of its four captains: outside hitter Kait Barry, setter Stefani Barry, middle hitter Ashley Whitney and outside hitter Ana Castelao.
“The preparations the girls made in the offseason and this preseason could pay dividends as the fall progresses and the players mature,” Wesche said. “I think the NVL will see some very spirited play among the league’s perennial powerhouses in Woodland, Holy Cross, Seymour and Torrington with St. Paul and Wolcott looking to make a little noise.”
The four senior captains, along with senior Kayla Rotatori, represent the experience that the Greyhounds will bring to the court.
Naugatuck struggled over the second half of last season, going 2-7 in its final nine games. Wesche is looking for the Greyhounds to get stronger as the season goes along and players become a little more comfortable with the roles they have.
A big part of the success for Naugatuck will be the production in the back row defense, which needs to keep balls in play and points from getting past the end line. Junior back row defenders Erika Andreoli and Lauren Burns will need to show their athleticism along with junior libero Megan Warnke as the Greyhounds look to stay competitive.
“I feel once the girls become accustomed to each other and the roles they all play out on the court they will begin to develop that trust in themselves to become competitive,” Wesche said.
Junior middle hitter Teree Perkins and junior outside hitter/setter Kara Klimaszewski will also be looked on to provide a spark with their all-out play and competitive nature.
The Greyhounds will get the season underway on Sept. 10 when they host Torrington for a 6 p.m. contest. Naugatuck will be tested early this season as its next battle will be Sept. 12 against Holy Cross, which made last year’s Class S state final. The ‘Hounds will conclude a very busy first week of the season with a match at Oxford on Sept. 13.
“The strength of our team is in our athleticism,” Wesche said. “These girls also have a willingness to sacrifice for the success of the team. We start out the season with some heavy hitters in Torrington and Holy Cross, as they are a few of the powerhouses in the league.”