NEW BRITAIN – The New Britain boys volleyball team suffered some bad luck.
After the birth of the program in 2019, last year’s non-season set the program back to square one this year as just two players returned from the 2019 team.
The Hurricanes have yet to win a match this season, however, they nearly took perennial Class L state power Southington to a fourth set in its 3-0 loss Thursday. The Blue Knights hung on to win the final frame 25-23, but not without some pressure from the hosts.
Hurricanes head coach Michelle Abraham has been tasked with teaching essentially her entire roster the ins-and-outs of the game of volleyball.
“Fundamentals and rules, they don’t know any of it,” Abraham said. “If they played in middle school it’s completely different, because it’s kind of a free-for-all. They’re learning from scratch and many of them didn’t even see the game played properly. We’re sending them videos and they’re watching that kind of stuff and with no athletics, per se, at all last year, they just wanted to do something. They came out, they’ve been here every day and they’re showing up, can’t fault that at all.”
Converting athletes from other sports has been one of the goals for Abraham, striving to recruit natural athletes, but with a brand new program, attracting the top talent has been difficult, Abraham admitted.
“The kids that came out, weren’t the athletes two years ago,” Abraham said. “They were kids that did nothing and were not seen as anybody in the build. The athletes didn’t come out because they don’t want to lose.
“Niko [Schand’s] learning the entire game, he’s a basketball player and producing,” Abraham said. “He’s athletic and that’s what we’re looking for to continue building our program here.”
In the loss to Southington, Schand secured seven kills while Davin Siharath went 6-for-6 from the service line and picked up eight digs.
While New Britain’s youth and inexperience isn’t translating to wins right away, exposure to top talent like the Blue Knights should yield positive results down the road.
“I know they’re a strong program that played Newington, state champs three times, but the guys got to see what good competition is all about,” Abraham. “If we play the weak teams, we’re not going to learn. We can only get better playing the better teams.”
Signs of better days already seem to be apparent as the Hurricanes’ junior varsity team boasts a winning record this season at 5-2 and didn’t look out of place opposite Southington’s JV squad Thursday.
“That was only the JV’s second loss,” Abraham said. “They understand that they got to start developing the idea on how to win and come back from losing a game and competing and play like they’ve been there.”
A longtime staple of New Britain volleyball, Abraham has coached the girls program for more than 30 years, while this season marks her second year coaching the boys squad.
Despite one career win on the boys side, Abraham enjoys the group of kids she oversees every day.
“They’re great kids,” Abraham said. “They say every night, ‘coach, thanks for coaching us.’ I wouldn’t want to coach in any other town, I told them that. I had opportunities to coach other places, one year I did softball in Berlin, this is where I belong. Grew up, live, die, New Britain.”
The Hurricanes will visit East Hartford on Monday, May, 17 at 5 p.m.
Ryan Ames can be reached at 860-801-5094 or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.