NEW BRITAIN - It‚Äôs already been quite the season for the New Britain girls volleyball team.
With just one returning varsity player from the last year‚Äôs squad and five new starters on the court, the Hurricanes began the season 3-1 and even qualified for the postseason the earliest in head coach Michelle Abraham‚Äôs tenure.
But with such an inexperienced quad, how is New Britain (9-4) having such success? Some of it has even come as a surprise to Abraham herself.
‚ÄúI didn‚Äôt expect this from this group,‚ÄĚ Abraham said. ‚ÄúRaven [Jarrett] is the only one that‚Äôs played varsity, the rest are real young and their only experience is freshman or JV so for that to happen and for them to come through. They‚Äôre coming together as a team and we just have to keep moving forward.‚ÄĚ
Abraham believes much of the success comes from Jarrett. The junior played her very first varsity season last year and helped lead the Hurricanes to a 13-7 season and a berth in the Class LL state tournament.
‚ÄúI think [this season‚Äôs success comes from] me trying to be a leader because I do have two years [of experience] compared to some of my teammates,‚ÄĚ Jarrett said. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs a tough job but I have to be tough to get the job done. I have to step up, especially as a young player.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúRaven‚Äôs a leader, [the team] is playing around her,‚ÄĚ Abraham said. ‚ÄúWhen you have a player that can play, they feed off her. They feed off her in a good way and a bad way. Every night I tell her the team revolves around her so I ask her ‚Äėcan you handle the pressure?‚Äô She‚Äôs our junior captain and so far she‚Äôs done it.‚ÄĚ
Wednesday night New Britain fell behind early. They were down 2-0 to Platt, but a late rally led by the junior captain got the Hurricanes back on track. New Britain found its momentum again and was able to win the final three sets.
It was quite the challenge compared to the previous night against Bulkeley.
‚ÄúPlatt is 5-6, but they play Farmington, [Bristol] Eastern, Southington,‚ÄĚ Abraham said. ‚ÄúAll their losses are from big teams [and] they‚Äôre all in the top six in the state. It‚Äôs always a battle when we play with them and I knew it was going to be. It was going to be a lot closer than [Tuesday]. That‚Äôs our downfall. One night we play a weak team and then the next night we have someone who is more competitive but that‚Äôs just who we‚Äôre line up with at the moment.‚ÄĚ
New Britain has just one more game at home before heading to the road for the rest of the season.
‚ÄúThey‚Äôre going to have to do it on the road which is even more challenging,‚ÄĚ Abraham said. ‚ÄúEvery game we win now keeps us higher in the state rankings and that‚Äôs what we‚Äôre looking for.‚ÄĚ
The Hurricanes have high goals for the rest of the season, ultimately they would like to cruise past the first round of the tournament with ease and hope to make it to the finals. The last time New Britain won a state tournament was in 1999 and the year prior it was the runner-up.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs a big year or me,‚ÄĚ Jarrett said. ‚ÄúBut I‚Äôm glad we‚Äôre able to make it far and I hope we go even further.‚ÄĚ
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096 or email@example.com