NEWINGTON - With state championship titles in four of the last six seasons, the Newington boys volleyball is back for more.
The Indians bring the talent to the floor every night but it’s something specific that the group feeds off.
“The thing with our team is we play so great off of momentum,” Newington’s Louis Egbuna said. “It comes from us on the floor, our bench and our fan section. That’s what puts us over the edge to keep winning.”
Winning has been a tradition for the Indians program and the edge in athleticism on the floor is big.
“We’re getting the multiple sport athletes,” head coach Curt Burns said. “Guys who play football, basketball, soccer and other sports. We’re getting those guys. Good athletes are good athletes and if they want to learn the game we can teach them the game and that seems to be the result now.”
Newington has 14 different players on its roster over 6 feet tall, three that are 6’4 or taller.
The size provides the Indians with a big advantage at the net and it was evident in the 3-0 win in the Class S semifinals.
Teddy Fravel, the tallest player on the team at 6’7 was a force at the net bringing the Indians back into the third set.
“I just think we have some of the best athletes to try out for volleyball,” Fravel said. “Every single dude can get well above the net to get a kill. A lot of us play basketball or other sports. That helps us stay in shape year round even if we don’t play volleyball it helps us get above the net and pound the ball.”
Egbuna, Leonel Caceres and Daniel Cloutier are the three All-Conference players on the Indians roster.
Since coming in as a freshman Caceres knew this program was special.
“I came in as a freshman and was like ‘man this team has been winning a lot’,” Caceres said. “So I had to step up and do my thing. It’s the offseason work we put in to be great athletes. It’s just a matter of showing up, doing what has to be done and showing out in the games.”
With Barlow on deck in the state championship game, Newington will be facing a familiar opponent.
The Indians are 3-1 against Barlow in the state tournament in the past four matchups, including a state championship win against them in 2015.
Every year is different but one thing is for sure, the Indians won’t be fearful of their opponent.
“What makes us so dominant is we don’t play scared,” Egbuna said. “We’re confident but we’re not cocky. We know we can swing on any team and we have the mentality that we’re better than any team. If we keep that mentality and keep swinging you see what can happen.”
As the only spring team left playing the Indians will once again have the opportunity to bring another championship to the town.
“I feel 100 percent confident that we can go in there and win,” Fravel said. “We’re not cocky, we’re not arrogant, but we know we have the capabilities to put a team away quick and that’s what we’re going to do.”
“Since we’re the only team left in high school everybody is coming,” Caceres said. “We expect a packed house in Shelton. They bring all the energy to us. We have the bench but it’s the fan section that keeps us going.”
Dan Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org