High ceiling for Innovation putting it in the mix for fifth-straight postseason berth

Published on Friday, 15 October 2021 19:57
Written by RYAN AMES


NEW BRITAIN – The mindset of the Innovation girls volleyball team hasn't faltered since the season began back in September.

The Ravens look to improve each and every time they step out on the court with a relatively inexperienced group of players. After their 3-0 win over University on Thursday, it appeared to be one of the Innovation's best showings, but head coach Matt Lance knows his squad is capable of even more.

“I'm a very tough critic,” Lance said. “We had too many service errors [Thursday], but I thought free-ball passing compared to previous matches was better. I thought our serve-receive was better, but not where it needs to be.”

In the victory over the Hawks, the Ravens came out of the gates a bit slow in the first set, but once they found their rhythm, it was Innovation all the way. Led by Patrice Broughton and Tynise Rose, the hosts handled University in a sweep, with the margin of victory in each game totaling at least seven points.

Featuring only four seniors in Ashley Palombizio, Katherine Palombizio, Daniah Sawyer and Naisha Aponte, Innovation has counted on its junior class heavily throughout the season. Broughton, Rose, Ciarimar Vicente and Ciara Cardona in particular, play just about every game and have already made strides in the right direction this year.

Because of the raw talent the Ravens hold, Lance is optimistic about what the future has in store for his squad.

“I think what I'm most excited about is our ceiling is pretty high this year,” Lance said. “Most of our core players are juniors. Especially offensively, we're trying to add in some new wrinkles to do different things and I think we can improve dramatically on offense.

“I just think we're in a good head space,” Lance said. “I like where we're going and I think we're going to continue to get better and better, and that's what you want.”

Should Innovation qualify for the playoffs, it'll strive for its first postseason victory since the 2017 season. The Ravens rolled past Whitney Tech, 3-0, in the second round after receiving a bye as the No. 4 seed in the Class S state tournament.

Since then, Innovation has lost both of its opening games with a 3-1 loss to Montville in 2018 in the Class M tournament, before a 3-0 defeat to St. Paul in 2019 in Class S.

Looking to join the dance for the fifth year in a row, the Ravens are starting to understand what it takes to be a consistently successful team while also maintaining a high level of confidence in their abilities.

“I think there's a comfort level where we've had some consistency now for a couple of matches, the girls are playing the same spot in the rotation, and I think some of them are excited that we are challenging them in practice and putting in some new things,” Lance said. “Girls are just finally getting some consistency and they're like, 'alright, I know everywhere where I'm going to be at every single point and I think that's huge for a team that had some girls play varsity last year, some girls this is their first real varsity action.”

Ryan Ames can be reached at 860-801-5094 or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.

Posted in New Britain Herald, Innovation on Friday, 15 October 2021 19:57. Updated: Friday, 15 October 2021 20:00.