Every team has players that take their performance to the next level, making sure they get their team where they need to be when game time arrives.
Southington girls volleyball senior captain, Stephanie Zera and Berlin’s junior quarterback Kevin Dunn proved to be those players.
After a torn ACL limited her play during her junior season last year, Zera has not missed a beat since returning to the lineup for head coach Richard Heitz and it has shown in both the stat sheet and in the Blue Knights’ record.
Last Friday, Zera had 25 assists in their 3-0 win against Hall, and Monday night she has 32 assists against Conard, in another 3-0 victory.
“She’s great,” Hietz said. “Now that she has the brace off, it has helped her game out a lot. She’s a great athlete, great team player, and a great captain.”
Zera is one of the top two setters Heitz said he has had at Southington. Zera has recorded over 1,000 career assists and is looking to compete at the next level. And her returning to full health boosts an already dangerous team that has the ability to compete with also any team.
But for Zera, returning to form was challenging, as coming back from any major injury is.
“It was a long recovery, but I ended up recovering pretty early, so my surgeon said I’d be back earlier than most people,” Zera. “Last year, I had the brace, and it was a little uncomfortable but I still played, and that was my goal.”
Zera didn’t do anything sports related until senior year to make sure she was able to come back healthy. A knee brace also limited her movement, which is essential for a player like Zera.
“This year I think I’m a lot faster,” Zera said. “With my brace I played slow, I didn’t have as much motion with the brace on, and there were certain ball I couldn’t normally get.”
Overall, the senior has liked the way the Blue Knights have started this season and Monday showed as much.
“We played well [Monday], the team was awesome,” Zera said. “We came back, we were struggling a little bit, but we pulled through and we got the win.”
The Berlin High School football team recently took home their first win of the season and their rookie quarterback was quite the helping hand.
Any time a players starts their first varsity game, it can be a big deal, especially when it is the starting quarterback of a team expected to compete for a playoff spot every year.
Dunn made his first varsity start for the Redcoats on Friday night and led his team to a 27-0 win over Bulkeley/HMTCA/Weaver in their season opener at Sage park.
The junior quarterback was efficient, completing 10 of his 21 pass attempts for 182 yards.
“Dunn was great,” head coach Joe Aresimowicz said. “You could see the look in his eyes, he had a lot of energy. You know when you have a lot of energy you’re just trying to overcompensate, I said ‘breathe, deep breath, we'll be alright, and he did, I’m proud of the kid. He’s done an unbelievable job and the work he’s put into the offseason shows.”
Dunn was new to the quarterback position entering the season. He started off as a wide receiver before making the position change last year.
He even worked with a quarterback coach over the last six months to prepare himself for the season. But even with a winning performance, Dunn knows he has to continue to improve as the season goes on.
“I had a lot of mistakes in the first half [of Friday night's game],” Dunn said. “But I cleaned it up and got the jitters out of the way and performed better in the second half.”
Either way, the Redcoats believe they have the quarterback to make them successful.