PLAINVILLE – It's been quite the turnaround for Alle Caponigro's Plainville girls volleyball team this season.
The Blue Devils' second-year head coach has led this year's squad to an 11-4 record through 15 games. During the 2020 season, Plainville finished 1-11 during Caponigro's first season at the helm.
Now one of the best teams in Class M, Caponigro's vision is starting to take shape when she first took over the Blue Devils' coaching duties.
“It's nice when you've had the same starting lineup and the same group of girls for two years,” Caponigro said. “They learn to trust your judgement calls, they learn that you know what you're doing and you're making decisions for a reason.”
Caponigro had to learn on the fly during her first season as she barely had any time to get to know her roster beforehand. Caponigro replaced Bob Moffo, who coached Plainville the three seasons prior, in sudden fashion.
“Last year was tough when I walked in the day before the first game and we just had to hope for the best,” Caponigro said. “That's tough to walk into. This year we know each other, they know how I coach, I know how they play, it's easier to adjust mid-game in those types of situations when you know each other and you trust each other as a team.”
That familiarity has translated on the court this fall as the Blue Devils are in the midst of their best season since 2016, when they won 20 games. Plainville advanced to the quarterfinal round of the Class M tournament that year before falling to Seymour, 3-2.
Having won a combined seven games from 2017-20, Caponigro's coaching decisions have clearly made an impact for the Blue Devils this time around.
“I think making all of my players all-around, well-rounded players [was my goal],” Caponigro said. “When I came last year, they were all very specific into their positions and what they were supposed to do, when that may not necessarily have been the best place for them. Making them all be able to play all the way around I think was a big improvement in their morale, which turns into a better improvement on the court and in games.”
Caponigro credited three seniors in Wiktoria Galazyn, Lilly Wazorko and Samantha Thompson as players who have had key roles in Plainville's breakout season.
“[Galazyn] for sure, Lilly Wazorko is our middle hitter and she's just a big presence out there, and she's a big supporting presence out there” Caponigro said. “Sammy Thompson does a great, great job for us keeping everybody on track and making sure that they're keeping their energy up when they're getting a little bit down on themselves. I think people overlook that player on the court, but she's the most important one out there.”
Plainville lost its last game to Platt, 3-0, but had put together an eight-game win streak leading up to its defeat against the Panthers. With five games remaining in the regular season, the Blue Devils appear to be on their way to their first playoff berth in five seasons.
Ryan Ames can be reached at 860-801-5094 or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.