NAUGATUCK — Time may be on the side of this year’s Naugatuck girls volleyball team.
Naugy features only a few returning players with significant experience among a large roster. Therefore, the preseason and the first few matches of the regular season will only benefit the Greyhounds, who finished 8-13 last season after a first-round state tournament loss.
“I know the more they play together and develop a comfort zone, they could become a very good team,” longtime Naugy head coach Fred Scheithe said.
Sarah Chandler, perhaps Naugy’s most versatile player, returns for her senior season and is one of the team’s tri-captains.
“Sarah is the leader of the team,” Scheithe said. “She can play all six positions well.”
Chandler will be joined by fellow tri-captains Melissa Ascencao and Raquel Loustaunau. Other seniors include back row players Emily Blanchard and Brianna Britto and newcomer Amy Dietz.
Dietz could provide something that has been lacking in the program recently — height. Dietz, also a basketball player, stands at 5-foot-10 and could develop into a key front row contributor.
While the team has depth in the back row, the frontline will be a major focus as the Greyhounds take the court.
“The key for us as always is to compete with the teams that have those strong front row players,” Scheithe said.
Looking to help the cause in the junior class will be Ana Castelao, who has shown a “knack for blocking” in the preseason, Scheithe said. In addition, Ashley Whitney and Kayla Rotatori will also provide some depth up front.
Other juniors, including setter Stef Barry and Kait Barry, will also provide some experience. Both played at the varsity level last season.
The team played a scrimmage at Shelton on Thursday night and has also been invited to play in Westport at the Staples Jamboree on Saturday morning. Both dates will allow the team to get a little more experience together prior to opening night in the Naugatuck Valley League on Tuesday. The Greyhounds open at Holy Cross on Sept. 11.
For now, Scheithe is concerned about showing progress and keeping a positive attitude.
“We’ll have fun,” Scheithe said. “We have a great bunch of girls. We want to qualify for the NVL and state tournaments and progress a little every day.”