Spikers set for NVL tourney

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By Kyle Brennan, Citizen’s News

Naugatuck’s Mia Grella (33) hits the ball over the net during a match against Crosby on Oct. 15 at Naugatuck High School. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

Being the defending Naugatuck Valley League volleyball champion — especially when that victory happened two years ago — doesn’t offer a whole lot of advantage for Naugatuck this fall.

But at least coach Kevin Wesche knows his squad has a little bit of championship experience in its back pocket.

“I don’t really take any confidence in that [championship], but we do have the experience,” Wesche said. “Some of the girls participated in that, and the nine seniors I have were on the practice squad against that year’s varsity team. They learned a lot.”

The Greyhounds should be a strong contender to repeat their championship, although they won’t be the favorites. Seymour, the perennial league favorite, is undefeated, including a 3-0 win over Naugy on Oct. 5, with two matches left in the regular season.

The Wildcats also swept a pair of matches against Woodland, but the Hawks were the only team to take two sets off Seymour during the season.

But Wesche, whose team is 16-2 with two games left, said it’s hard to discount any of the other teams who may sneak into contention.

Naugatuck’s Tiffany Nguyen (7) hits the ball during a match against Crosby on Oct. 15 at Naugatuck High School. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

“Some of the teams up top can put it together and surprise you,” Wesche said.

Woodland is 14-5 with one match left. Two of those defeats were nonconference games; the others were the pair against Seymour and a 3-0 loss to Naugatuck on Sept. 17. The Hawks heated up during the middle of the season, winning 11 of 12 matches during one stretch.

Wesche said the key for any team that seeks to win the league tournament needs to play clean volleyball.

“It’s going to be about minimizing mistakes, making sure you get serves in, tracking down the ball and keeping off the ground because there are a lot of good hitters out there,” Wesche said.

Quarterfinals will be played Saturday at the sites of higher-seeded teams. The semifinals are set for Nov. 1 at Torrington, with the final scheduled for Nov. 3 at Kennedy.