NEW BRITAIN - Although the New Britain girls volleyball team was eliminated in the first round of the Class LL tournament, there was plenty to be proud of in its 3-1 loss against Conard Monday night.
With their 13-8 record, the Hurricanes managed to hit every single one of their season goals - qualifying for the CCC tournament as well as the state tournament. New Britain has accomplished it all, including ending their season over .500.
It just didn’t end the way the Hurricanes were hoping for.
“At this point in time, the games in November are the ones you remember,” head coach Michelle Abraham said.
Monday night’s game would be one to remember for senior libero Nariely Andujar, who finished with 23 digs and 13 assists for New Britain, while her teammates Raven Jarrett and Nataly Hernandez ended the game with 8 kills and two aces respectively.
“We worked hard enough to get a home game for states and we worked hard enough to at least win one game,” Andujar said. “I’m glad to meet all the girls that I did and work as hard as I did with them. I can say I have never played a game like that and man, did my girls want to win. We fought as hard as we could and I’m just so proud of them.”
The first three sets between the Hurricanes and the Chieftains were close. It was a constant battle of back-and-forth for points with neither team able to get head of the other for more than two. Conard took the first and second set, 25-22 and 25-18.
“[Our players] rallied around each other I thought defense was our key all season long,” Abraham said. “But, we struggled [Monday] with communication. I think there were some jitters definitely, not wanting to make a mistake. If you play scared you’re going to dig yourself a hole.”
New Britain was able to turn it around for the third set. Points were close yet again but the Hurricanes never fell behind the Chieftains and took the game 25-20.
But that was the last set New Britain was able to win as Conard took the fourth and final set. With the Chieftains ahead by 10 at 19-9, the Hurricanes lost momentum, giving the Chieftains the 25-10 set win and the match overall.
“Sadly it was a tough loss for us,” Jarrett said. “I feel like we could’ve pushed through more but it’s OK. Some of us have two or more season’s left and we’ll just improve next year.”
The Hurricanes were led this season by just four seniors, the rest underclassmen. And with a young team, there is plenty of room for improvement.
“We have some young talent, many of these girls did not play varsity last year,” Abraham said.
One such player is Jarrett.
Just a sophomore and a three-sport athlete in volleyball, basketball and track, Abraham believes Jarrett is only going to get better.
“She’s very young, but she’s athletic,” Abraham said. “Right now it’s her athleticism that is carrying her through. As soon as she learns more skills and fundamentals I think she’s going to be unstoppable.”
With a young core returning, next season could be even better for New Britain.
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096 or email@example.com