2019 H.S. volleyball preview capsules
ECC Division I
Coach: Jack Biggs (22nd season)
Key returnees: Sr. OH-L Sophie Dubreuil, Sr. OH Mya Delesdernier, Sr. DS-S Ellie Meredith, Jr. RS Arielle Vaglio, Jr. S-DS Jaylyn Mueller, Jr. OH-DS Brooklyn Geida.
Top newcomers: Jr. DS Lindsay Hatajik, Jr. S Rachel Demers, Jr. MH Avery Bucko, So. DS Nina Sheehan, So. MH Shannon Pierce, So. OH-MH Ella Freed.
Outlook: The Vikings, despite the loss of The Day's All-Area Player of the Year (Sydney Iannantuono), return a veteran cast from a team that went 19-5 overall, including four losses to ECC champion Woodstock Academy (one in the ECC tournament final and another in the Class L quarterfinals). Dubreuil and Delesdernier were members of The Day's All-Area team and will make East Lyme a threat to challenge for Division I regular season and postseason honors.
Coach: Steve Banks (24th season)
Key returnees: Sr. MH Nora Ryan, Sr. OH Nyseannah Ishmael, Sr. S Diana Sefransky, Sr. S Karly Morales, Sr. RS Aria Lupo, Jr. L Marlo Sim.
Top newcomers: Sr. MH Abby Rogers, Sr. MH Katie Wagner, Jr. OH Alyssa Virtue, Jr. DS Emma Kohrt, So. OH Rita Sefransky, Fr. OH Maddie Fancher.
Outlook: This could be a big year for the Falcons, who return the bulk of their lineup from a team that went 13-9 overall and took state power RHAM the distance before losing 3-2 in the Class L second round. Ryan, a member of The Day's All-Area team in 2018, is one of the ECC's elite players. Banks said defense and strong serving remain staples of the programs and he's been impressed with the multi-faceted attack Fitch has developed during the preseason. Expect Fitch to compete for the Division I title and make some noise in both the ECC and Class L state tournaments.
Coach: Ryan Czaja (2nd season)
Key returnees: Sr. OH Maya Conley, Jr. S Sarah Ericson, Sr. L Maddy Allen.
Top newcomers: So. OH Brie Surfus.
Outlook: Despite the loss of outside hitter Eliana Jewell, a member of The Day's All-Area team, the Wildcats return some key players from a team that finished 8-13 overall while competing in a difficult division. "I feel confident in this team," Czaja said. "They have worked really hard in the offseason, conditioned, bonded, and are ready to go. I'm excited and see NFA as a contender for ECC championship and beyond."
ECC Division II
Coach: Marin Marciano (1st season)
Key returnees: Sr. L McKayla Finkelstein, Sr. MH Tajeah Winston, Jr. OH Kira Kassim, Jr. S Hannah Avila,
Top newcomers: Jr. MH Ayanna Wiltshire, Sr. OH Marisa Howard, So. RH Kaitlin Flynn, Jr. L Codee Carroll.
Outlook: Marciano, an assistant coach the past two seasons, takes over a program that went 12-10 in 2018, but graduated seven seniors, including five starters. The Colonels will by young, but still have the talent to be competitive within the division. Marciano said Ledyard "will rely on defense and serving to be successful during matches."
ECC Division III
Coach: Harold Branstrom Jr. (1st season)
Key returnees: So. MB Maya Hillman, Sr. S MacKenzie Clark, Sr. OH-D Bella Butzgy.
Top newcomers: Sr. Jenny Alarcon, Jr. OH Maggie Wainwright, Jr. MB Rory Curran.
Outlook: The Indians are still a young team, but there is plenty of talent moving up from a successful junior varsity season as Branstrom takes over the program. Hillman, a middle blocker, provides a strong presence in the lineup while Branstrom will lean on seniors Clark, Butzgy and Alarcon. Montville expects to be competitive within the division.
Coach: Matthew Maynard (6th season)
Key returnees: Sr. S Sabrina Kobyluck, Sr. OH Ryleigh Gonyo, Sr. OH Rachel Miller, Sr. L Briana Muckle.
Top newcomers: Sr. OH Allesondra Folino, Sr. DS-L Jasmine Graciano, Sr. MH Hayler Wheeler, Jr. S-RS Angela Colonis, Jr. MH Liliana Kramer, Jr. DS Gabriela Kramer, So. MH Kate Lange.
Outlook: The defending Division II champions went 15-4 a year ago and graduated a large senior class. But Maynard welcomes back four starters and expects the Lancers to contend for another division championship and have success in the ECC and state tournaments. "Our seniors have done a tremendous job setting the tone, giving us an awesome place to start this season," Maynard said. "I am incredibly proud of them and excited to see how we progress going forward."
Coach: Missy Parker (2nd season)
Key returnees: Sr. Shannon Huang, Sr. Olivia Yard, Jr. Caylee Parker, Sr. Chaylet Cintron, Ana Matos, Lizbeth Nunez, Jr. Nahiomy Ramos, So. Anija Thomas.
Top newcomers: Jr. Jayden Burns, Stacey Rivera, Chery-Ann Lubin, Jr. Dillon Arpin, Je'Licia Rivera, Sr. Desiree Johnson, Yarielis Ortiz.
Outlook: The Whalers, who went 5-13 a year, return plenty of experience this fall. Parker is optimistic New London will be competitive within the division and make a run at qualifying for the state tournament. The Whalers also have several newcomers to challenge the veterans for court time and provide depth.
Coach: John Blake (9th season)
Key returnees: Jr. MH Samarie Delgado, So. S Sherly Caba, Jr. S Nicole Rodriguez-Rivera, Sr. MB Miriam Foshay.
Top newcomers: Jr. OH Noelani Jackson, So. OH Jazmin Lopez, So. S Nicole Castillo.
Outlook: The Eagles graduated seven seniors from a team that went 1-19 a year ago, but Blake returns three starters and there is more talent despite being young. Blake expects Grasso Tech to be competitive in the Connecticut Technical Conference and has the potential to qualify for the state tournament.
Coaches: Tim and Deb Krodel (23rd season)
Key returnees: Sr. MH Jade Houtman Wolchesky, Sr. OH Shay Gaboury, Sr. OH Joharys Perez Rivera, Sr. DS Ashley Williams, Jr. S Emma McKenzie, Jr. DS Paige Phaneuf.
Top newcomers: Sr. DS Olivia Lopez, Sr. RS Jaelyn Reed, Sr. DS Nayeli Martin, Jr. OH Emili Fiasconaro, Jr. MH Jackson Reed, Jr. S Lauryn Heft, Jr. MH Lily Norris.
Outlook: The Warriors, who have been to 19 state tournaments, look to make 20 and follow up on a strong 2018 season when they went 15-4 overall and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Class S state tournament. The Krodels expect Norwich Tech to compete for the Connecticut Technical Conference Charter Oak Division title as well as the CTC's postseason tournament.
Coach: Erin Crayton (14th season)
Key returnees: Sr. MH Taylor Thompson, Sr. MH Maddie Cann, Sr. OH Chandler Munson.
Top newcomers: So. OH Melanie Warren, So. MH Abby Sicuranz.
Outlook: After struggling a year ago (2-17), the Wildcats return an experienced group that should be much more competitive in the always strong Shoreline Conference. "It has been a long time since we have been to the (Class S) state tournament, but this looks like the team that can do that," Crayton said.
Stories that may interest you
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Legendary New Canaan coach Lou Marinelli was complimentary of New London after the No. 3 Rams pulled away late for a 32-6 victory over the Whalers in the season opener for both on Saturday at Cannamela Field.
Stonington and Fitch advance to the championship of the Third annual Josh Piver Cup boys' soccer tournament with first round wins on Saturday.
Austin Richards threw three touchdowns passes to Andrew Cote and scrambled for a game-winning 29-yard touchdown with 2:38 left to help NFA rally from an 11-point, fourth-quarter deficit and a 37-27 win over Xavier.