By Ken Morse and Kyle Brennan, Citizen’s News
Determining where everyone fits on the court is one of the most intricate details in compiling a well-balanced volleyball team. Who will dominate at the net, who has the ability to set up the offense in the middle, and who has that all-out desire in the back row to bring up returns?
The Greyhounds have settled comfortably into their roles after the first few weeks of the season.
“I think the team is coming together very well,” Naugy head coach Kevin Wesche said. “They have been playing together for a few years now and they are a very cohesive unit.”
Naugatuck (5-1 overall, 5-0 NVL) faced some early adversity with a 3-1 (25-15, 26-28, 14-25, 21-25) loss to South West Conference powerhouse Pomperaug on Sept. 20. It was the Greyhounds’ first loss since the second round of the 2019 Class LL tournament.
It didn’t take long for the Greyhounds to shake the loss out of their system.
Naugatuck came back the next night and swept St. Paul, 3-0 (25-16, 25-9, 25-17).
Kaylee Jackson has taken the lead at the net and came up with ten kills to help spike the Falcons. Sam Mullin (eight assists, four aces) and Nadia Cestari (six assists, seven service points) have taken turns settling matters at mid-court.
Kendall Allen has made her presence felt in the front row (five kills, seven points), and Naugy has utilized the play of Mia Grella (three kills, two blocks) and Tiffany Nguyen (three digs, eight points) to keep the pressure on opponents.
“What is our strong suit is there is a lot of athleticism on this team,” Wesche said. “There is a lot of enthusiasm and being the defending 2019 NVL champions, they are looking to continue what they started.”
Naugatuck made it back-to-back wins with a 3-0 (25-10, 25-20, 25-23) victory against Torrington on Sept. 24. Jackson had 12 kills and five service points, Allen had eight kills and11 service points, and Mullin has 15 service points and 12 assists.
Naugy showed its depth in a 3-0 (25-22, 25-5, 25-21) win over Woodland on Sept. 17. Riley Best came off the bench and chipped in with six points and two aces effort and Juliana Sarbieski had three service points.
Jackson had an all-around game with 10 kills, nine digs and 14 points. Allen had nine kills and six points, and Mullin had 12 assists and six points.
“We are getting a nice rotation going and everyone knows their role,” Wesche said. “Our bench players have come in and really given us a boost.”
Naugy will play Watertown on Sept. 28 and Wolcott on Sept. 29, before hosting Wilby on Oct. 1.
Hawks picking up steam: The Woodland volleyball team is starting to gain some momentum after a few weeks of what coach Jim Amato said was trying to “find our identity.”
After suffering a 3-0 loss to defending NVL champion Naugatuck on Sept. 17, the Hawks rallied to win three straight.
On Sept. 21 against Torrington, Ally Lisowski tallied eight kills and three aces to lead Woodland (4-2 overall, 3-1 NVL) to a 3-1 victory (22-25, 25-21, 25-22, 25-20) in which the Hawks rallied from dropping the first set.
Amber Rosato added 13 digs and five kills, while Sam Sosnovich served up eight aces with 12 digs. Kylie Bulinski facilitated the offense with 18 assists and 15 digs, and Maille Ianniruberto had six kills.
Woodland followed up with a 3-0 (25-23, 25-13, 25-11) sweep of East Haven in non-league competition Sept. 22. Ianniruberto had seven kills, while Rosato tallied four kills and Lisowski added three kills with two blocks. Bulinski added 12 assists and seven digs.
On Sept. 24, the Hawks swept Watertown, 3-0 (25-13, 25-16, 25-21). Ianniruberto had 10 kills, Rosato had eight kills and three aces, and Bulinski had 20 assists.
Woodland will host Ansonia Sept. 27 has part of a six-game homestand that will end Oct. 7 with a rivalry matchup against Seymour.