Young Naugatuck squad displays grit

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NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck volleyball team may only have two seniors on the roster, but the team showed the grit and toughness of a veteran squad to open the season.

The Greyhounds battled in a back-and-forth affair to earn a hard-fought 3-2 (25-18, 23-25, 25-15, 21-25, 15-10) win over St. Paul on Sept. 11 in the season-opener.

“With only two seniors on the court we are virtually a young squad,” Naugy head coach Kevin Wesche said. “Our youth and inexperience did show at times, but the two sets we did lose were relatively close.

“Our three captains (seniors Shannon Burns and Hailey Deitelbaum and junior Brielle Behuniak) did a tremendous job keeping the crew focused and calm during the final set with encouraging words. They all dug in and supported each other mentally and physically throughout.”

Burns, Deitelbaum (eight kills) and Behuniak (19 service points, 9 assists, 8 kills, 5 aces) provided a court presence to give the young Greyhounds the confidence to succeed.

Juniors Jordyn Hunt (24 service points, 5 aces) and Hailey Russell (9 kills, 1 block) added to the experience out on the court.

The Greyhounds also received solid efforts from freshman Kaylee Jackson (6 kills) and sophomore Cara Bergin (2 kills).

Defensively, junior libero Yahna Ancheta added 18 digs while guarding the back row.

“They played very scrappy in all five sets,” Wesche said. “We expect big things as they mature and gain experience throughout the season.”

The Greyhounds improved to 3-0 to start the year with a 3-0 (25-16, 25-8, 25-23) win over Watertown on Sept. 13 and a 3-2 (25-17, 22-25, 23-25, 25-21, 15-5) win over Wolcott on Sept. 14.

Behuniak led the way against the Indians (0-3) with nine aces, 15 points, three kills and one block.

Hunt had three aces to go along with three kills and six points. Russell added six kills and points, and Jackson has two aces, two kills and three points.

Against Wolcott (2-1), the Greyhounds railed from a 2-1 deficit to pull out the win. Hunt (20 points, 6 aces), Jackson (11 points, 10 kills) and Behuniak (17 points, 10 assists) led the offense. Russell dished 16 assists to go along with seven points.

Naugatuck is the only unbeaten NVL team with divisional wins. Seymour (4-0) has yet to play a Copper Division match.

Wesche said the team recognizes the importance of those wins. But also liked how the team battled through the five-set wins over St. Paul and Wolcott.

“We talked about battling through adversity,” he said. “This shows we can withstand a run from the other team.”

Naugatuck will host Holy Cross on Tuesday and Lewis Mills on Wednesday before heading to Torrington on Friday.

The Republican-American contributed to this article.