The local girls volleyball teams are ready to kick off their season and with good reason. Most are coming off of successful 2016 campaigns and this season is expected to be no different.
Southington and Plainville look to be the top two teams in the area. Both made solid runs in their respective state tournaments and have the talent to do so again. The Blue Knights and Blue Devils lost some key pieces, but have plenty of talent returning to fill those holes.
Berlin will be under the direction of a new head coach in Megan Kennedy, but the Redcoats look to be as steady and consistent as always. New Britain, meanwhile, will look to make its way back to the state tournament, which shouldn’t be too much of an issue with the roster head coach Michelle Abraham has.
Newington has some work to do, coming off a tough 2016 season in which it took a step backwards. But head coach Chris Warner believes he has the players who are versatile enough to make the difference on the court and that could be a rebound year for the Indians.
Both Goodwin Tech and Innovation had successful seasons. The teams are confident with their returning rosters, which looks to lend plenty of depth and allow them to be contenders for their respective conference titles.
Here’s a closer look at the local teams:
Head Coach: Michelle Abraham (30th season)
Last Year: 10-11
Key Losses: Jess Torres, Dejia Santana, Jasmia Molina
Key Returnees: Raven Jarrett (soph.), Alondra Reyes (senior) Nelanie Velez (senior)
Outlook: Last season was one of ups and downs for the Hurricanes before ultimately finishing out the year strong. This season could have the same feel to it. Head coach Michelle Abraham, now entering her 30th with New Britain, likes the way her team has been working throughout the offseason and the early part of the schedule and is showing plenty of promise. An advantage of the Hurricanes is the veteran experience and they will need it having to replace an important trio from 2016 in Jess Torres, Dejia Santana and Jasmia Molina. There are also some newcomers that could also make an impact. Freshman Kaetlyn Cartagena could be a key contributor for Abraham and is jelling nicely with the rest of the squad. Overall, this could be a team to watch out for.
Head Coach: Megan Kennedy (1st season)
Last Year: 9-11
Key Losses: Nina D’Amato
Key Returnees: Alyssa Dumont (senior) and Libby Aroian (senior)
Outlook: After seeing Bob Triago patrolling around the sidelines for so long, the Redcoats will have a new head coach this season in Megan Kennedy and it looks as though Berlin is poised to improve on its 9-11 record from 2016. The Redcoats have nine seniors returning to their lineup, including Alyssa Dumont and defensive specialist Libby Aroian. The incoming younger players could add the necessary depth to make Berlin a dangerous team in the CCC to compete with.
Head Coach: Chris Warner (2nd season)
Last Year: 5-15
Key Losses: Vicky Skonieczny, Stephanie Akosa, and Sashesa Haughton
Key Returnees: Meghan Roberts (senior), Blayne Wanner-Hyde, Libero (senior), Yasmin Rincon (senior), and Carelys Benitez (soph.)
Outlook: The Indians had a rough 2016 season only winning five of their fifteen matches and are looking to turn this around this year. Like many of the high school teams in the area, Newington will have a solid group of veterans to lean on as the younger players develop throughout the season. Meghan Roberts, libero Blayne Wanner-Hyde, Yasmin Rincon and Carelys Benitez are returning for head coach Chris Warner. According to the head coach, while his team may be young, the players have shown a knack for playing tough defense and being versatile, which could make the Indians a dark-horse contender this season in their division.
Head Coach: Richard Heitz (16th season)
Last Year: 18-5
Key Losses: Morgan Raymond, Kelly Kritz
Key Returnees: Steph Zera (senior), Hannah Zelina (senior), Erica Bruno (senior), Nolyn Allen (senior), Sarah Myrick (senior), and Brooke Cooney (soph.)
Outlook: Southington is coming off a dominating season in which it won 18 games and will be looking for similar results this year. Head coach Richard Heitz only lost four players to graduation, meaning the Blue Knights have plenty of talent returning. One of the most important returnees will be senior Steph Zera, who missed a good portion of 2016 with a torn ACL. Zera has proven to be a key piece for Southington over the years and has recorded over 1,000 assists. Her returning to full health immediately helps the team. Joining her on the court will be seniors Hannah Zelina, Erica Bruno, Nolyn Allen and Sarah Myrick. There are some issues the Blue Knights will have to work to overcome, specifically height. A shorter team, Southington will need to pass and serve effectively to compete at the level they are accustomed to. But that also happens to be an area of strength. In other words, don’t expect much of a drop off from the Blue Knights this season.
Head Coach: Bill Moffo (1st season)
Last Year: 20-5
Key Losses: Aminah Tsonga, Victoria Plourde, Jessica Gorski, Alexis Ouellette, Erin Brochu, Emily Finkelstein, and Kyli Petillo
Key Returnees: Caitlin Bradley (senior), Anna Stehle (senior), Desiree Wesolowski (senior) Alyssa Roy (junior), Victoria Corriveau (junior), Natalia Boltromiejuk (junior), Kate Tanguay (soph.)
Outlook: Plainville continued its upward accent last season, going 20-5, while reaching the Class M quarterfinals. The key to this season will be finding different areas to improve in to maintain that level of success year-in and year-out. First-year head coach Bill Moffo has a deep and talented roster returning and that should help to lessen the losses of players such as All-Stater Aminah Tsonga, Victoria Plourde and Erin Brochu. It should be an interesting season overall for the Blue Devils.
Head Coach: Paul Soucy (4th season)
Last Year: 16- 7
Key Losses: Tatyana Vasquez, Ashley Rivera, Michaela Gross, Mayte Casiano
Key Returnees: Leina Rivera (senior), Tanija Russell (senior), Teresa Lopez (senior), Soannie Arroyo (junior), Joarielys Pino (junior), Tiana Rodriquez (junior), Adaneysi Guzman (soph.), Korina Trammell (soph.)
Outlook: After a highly successful 2016 season, the Gladiators are confident they have the talent to contend for a conference title this year. Head coach Paul Soucy lost four key seniors in Tatyana Vasquez, Ashley Rivera, Michaela Gross, and Mayte Casiano, but has a strong senior class, led by Leina Rivera and Tanija Russell, to fill the void as well as some underclassmen that are expected to be important contributors. There shouldn’t be many teams bale to compete on a regular basis in the CSC with Goodwin Tech.
Head Coach: Matthew Lance
Last Year: 17-6
Key Losses: N/A
Key Returnees: Bailee Nardi (senior), Imani Rosado (senior), Danelys Baez-Arroyo (junior), Aliyah Merced (senior), Morgan Sartor (junior)
Outlook: After playing for a conference title in 2016, the Ravens are coming into the season with an experienced team and with the amount of players returning, looks to be one of their advantages. Head coach Matt Lance did lose both of his middle blockers to graduation and will be looking for players to fill that void. There are of course players to watch on this team. Bailee Nardi is looking to build upon her school records for career and single-season kills, while Imani Rosado will add to her records for career and single-season aces and assists, Alliyah Merced will also add to her school record in digs. This could be a intriguing year for a program looking to take the next step.