Woodland passing early season tests

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BEACON FALLS — So far in the young season, Woodland volleyball has passed every test thrown at them.

On Tuesday, the Hawks swept the defending Naugatuck Valley League champion on the road. Woodland defeated Wolcott, 3-1 (25-19, 25-20, 25-14).

Nicole Fowler tallied 29 digs in a defensive showcase to help keep the Eagles off the board and jumpstart the Hawks on offense.

“Fowler was unconscious on defense,” Woodland head coach Jim Amato said. “She did a great job getting into the hitting lanes.”
When Fowler did her part, it led to offense. Samantha Lee served up 31 assists to numerous offensive options who were able to convert.

“We were more consistent with our passing and that generated offense from our hitters,” Amato said. “We were able to get the ball to the center of the court.”

Brianna Pacileo led the Hawks with 12 kills and added nine digs and a block. Tayler Boncal added 10 kills while Erin Wester had nine kills and one block.

After a season-opening win over Watertown, the Hawks (3-0) defeated Seymour in a five-setter that required a comeback. Down two sets to one, Woodland rebounded to take the final two.

The scores of the match were 25-23, 12-25, 13-25, 25-23 and 20-18.

Woodland had to come from behind in the first set.

“We were down by six in the first set,” Amato said. “But, there’s something about playing from behind that makes you more aggressive and less tentative.”

In sets two and three, Seymour stepped up — specifically, on defense.

“Seymour played incredible defense,” Amato said. “They brought up everything.”

Needing to win the last two sets, the Hawks played more loosely and reduced their unforced errors.

Boncal finished with 15 kills and 16 digs to lead the way, while Fowler came up with 28 digs, four aces and four kills.

Lee contributed 34 assists and 20 digs and Pacileo chipped in with nine kills and 23 digs. Wester had 12 kills and two blocks.
While Woodland has started undefeated, there’s plenty to work on, according to Amato. He said passing and positioning will continue to be areas of focus.

Nevertheless, the Hawks have picked up some key wins and lead the NVL Brass Division as they seek their second straight division title. However, Amato knows there are plenty of matches to be played.

“We’re coming together nicely,” Amato said. “But it’s early. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.”

The Hawks travel to Ansonia Thursday and host St. Paul Catholic on Friday and Crosby next Tuesday. Woodland will also host a nonconference match against Berkshire League power Northwestern next Wednesday.