Only two of the schools in the area have boys volleyball teams but both schools that do have it, Newington and Southington, are among the best in the state.
Both schools are coming off yet another strong season in which they competed with the top teams in their respective classes. Southington went 15-3 and although it lost in the second round of the Class L tournament, that loss came to the eventual state champions in Ridgefield. In that match the Blue Knights brought it to five sets and lost by two points.
Newington, on the other hand, made it to the semifinals of the Class M tournament yet again but fell short in three sets to Joel Barlow. That three-set loss was closer than it would seem as the Indians were able to bring two of the sets into extra time.
Even more exciting is the fact that Newington and Southington play each other twice a season. Last year, they split the two meetings with each winning on their home floor. Both matches went to five sets so you can expect a couple of exciting games between the two teams again this season.
While both teams are coming off of successful seasons, this year figures to be no different. Each team lost some key players but there is plenty of talent on both sides to expect deep runs in the postseason yet again.
Here is a closer look at the local teams:
Head coach: Curt Burns (14th season)
Last year: 17-6
Key losses: Blake Mamaclay, Dante Phillip
Key returnees: Zach Harmon (Senior/outside hitter), Kevin Bilbraut (Senior/libero), Andres Ithier-Vicenty (Senior/opposite), Vinh Dau (Senior/outside hitter), Evan Metzger (Junior/setter), Leonel Cacares (Sophomore/middle blocker).
Key newcomers: Teddy Fravel (Sophomore/middle blocker), Collin Liedke (Sophomore/libero), Louis Egbuna (Sophomore/outside hitter).
Outlook: The Newington boys volleyball team is coming off of an excellent 2016 season and will now look to maintain its position among the top-level volleyball programs in the state. The Indians came up one match short of competing for a state championship last season, which would have made it three straight seasons of being in the Class M championship game. Head coach Curt Burns says his team is using last year’s loss to fuel them this season.
“It is motivating the 2017 team to again return to that level of competition, knowing it must be earned every day during this upcoming season,” Burns said.
The Indians did lose their top two players in Blake Mamaclay and Dante Phillip, which could pose a problem for most programs, but Newington should be able to plug-and-play as it has done in the past without issue.
Head coach: Lou Gianacopolos
Last year: 15-3
Key losses: Jordan Meier, Jack Dietz, Devin Prive, Michael Aberizk, Tim Cocozza
Expected key returnees: Josh Hilliard, Louis Gianacopolos, Evan D’Agostino, Nathan Simard, Brian Durocher, Andrew Chavez, Niko Sophroniou, Connor Brush, Tim Walsh, Dan Hackerman.
Outlook: The Southington boys volleyball is coming off an incredible 2016 season in which it lost just three games in the regular season. The Blue Knights earned the fourth seed in the Class LL state tournament but lost in the second round to Ridgefield in a tight five-set match. Ridgefield would go on to win the state championship over second-seeded Darien. Southington lost a few key seniors from last year’s team but will still return a lot of talented players that got some key experience in big games a season ago. Only three losses in the regular season may be on the high side, expectations wise, for this year’s group but another solid season does seem likely.
Michael Woolfson can be reached at 860-801-5203 or firstname.lastname@example.org