BEACON FALLS – The Naugatuck Valley League title defense of the Woodland volleyball team started Tuesday, and despite having an almost entirely new team, the Hawks picked up right where they left off with a 3-0 win over Ansonia.
Senior setter Jess Patrizi, the Hawks’ only returning starter and last year’s NVL tournament MVP, stuffed the stat sheet as usual, racking up 18 assists and five aces. Head coach Jim Amato began the process of breaking in an entirely new rotation, as nine other players saw significant varsity play for the first time.
“They know their roles,” Amato said. “They fill the holes where needed. They know their jobs. They’re doing the jobs that they need to do.”
Woodland played sloppily at times and found difficulty consistently returning serves.
“We have to work on our cover and breaking serve,” said senior Heather Framski, who had a team-high nine kills with five aces and two blocks. “For the good majority of the game we were communicating—that wasn’t a problem. But our cover on our blockers and service receiving got a little weak.”
Framski controlled the game at times with a strong serve and ferocious hitting, using her 5-9 frame to soar above the net. Over an 11-point stretch in the second set, Framski recorded four kills and tacked on several service points along with an ace to help Woodland pull away with a 25-14 win.
“At first I was a little nervous to hit the ball,” Framski said. “But once the first-game jitters were gone and everyone relaxed a little, it was much easier to put the ball down.”
The jitters were apparent in the first set, as Ansonia stuck around with the Hawks until a five-point service run by senior Lindsay Boland gave her squad a 20-12 lead. Framski and Patrizi recorded consecutive kills to seal a 25-17 win in the first set of the season.
“There are definitely some things to work on,” Amato said. “We have to tighten up play and execution. Passing was good. Choices at the front line were very good. We didn’t execute perfectly all the time, but the choices were good.”
Those front-line calls worked out as the match went on, not only with Framski’s nine kills, but with outside hitters, including Boland and sophomore Tayler Boncal, who each tallied three kills. Junior middle blocker Adriana Ambari was also an important presence at net for Woodland.
“Framski has really developed in one year,” Amato said. “Boncal is coming into her own and Boland hits from all locations. Add in Adriana and that’s a good foursome in front.”
The Hawks sealed their first victory with a seven-point service run by Boland, the final point of which came via a kill by Boncal.
So it’s one-for-one in Woodland’s second title defense in three seasons. But the mentality of the Black and Gold hasn’t changed.
“It’s one point, one set, one match at a time,” Amato said.