After defeating Guilford 3-1 in the first round of the Class L tournament, the Naugatuck girls volleyball team lost to undefeated RHAM High School 3-0 (12-25, 9-25, 20-25) last Thursday in Hebron.
While Naugy was unable to win a game against last year’s state champion, who will likely take the trophy again this year, Coach Kevin Wesche was very pleased with his young team’s performance throughout the game.
“I think we did very well considering what we were up against,” Wesche said. Our girls showed a lot of class, a lot of grit, a lot of fight. We made them burn two timeouts in the last game, which they are not accustomed to. We ended up losing that game but we still gave them a good run for their money.”
A good run for their money, indeed, and that is what the Greyhounds have done all year long. After a tough first loss of the season to Woodland, who is in the state semifinals, Naugy went on a five-game winning streak, including a win against Torrington, which co-captain Erika Andreoli says was the biggest win of the year for them.
“It was a big win especially because they beat us three times last year,” said Andreoli, a key server for Naugy in her past two seasons.
Wesche, after finishing last year as one of the premier teams in the NVL, saw his team, again, towards the top of the league, and was not surprised by his team’s success this season despite their inexperience at the Varsity level.
“I think they matured and developed throughout the season,” said Wesche, whose Greyhounds finished the regular season with yet another winning record of 14-6 and received the 15 seed out of 27 in the Class L tournament. “We had a very inexperienced front row back in August but they became very experienced by the time the season finished up thanks to our senior leadership.”
That senior leadership is headed by Naugy’s three captains, Kara Klimaszewski, Lauren Burns, and Erika Andreoli. Andreoli says that her co-captains and herself were responsible for keeping their team together throughout the season, through the highs and lows.
“We all had different personalities but the same role,” stated Andreoli. “There were some points in the season when there was some tension because we were facing a hard opponent, so we called team meetings to talk things over. We tried to keep the team up and together because in volleyball, that is very important.”
Also, Klimaszewski occasionally came in on Wesche’s front line to provide her leadership to a young group, which included Nicole Healy, Olivia Rotatori, and Alexa Blazas, while Teree Perkins and Ally Mezzo would also rotate in. Burns was quite astounded by this young front line and says that they all stepped up this year because they did their job.
“They really stepped up for our offense,” said Burns. “They hit, blocked, and were able to serve for us.”
Every one of these girls will be returning to Wesche’s squad next season, and that makes the coach very optimistic, despite the losses of the 2015 graduates.
“I think they will come back strong next year,” Wesche said. “We will have strong and experienced front line. That came with the leadership and example from the seniors that we had this year.”