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    Monday, March 20, 2023

    H.S. girls’ volleyball previews

    Lyman Memorial's Kassidy LaTour, left, is back to lead the reigning Class S state champions in 2022. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Skylar Bell, a Class L all-state pick, is back after helping East Lyme win the ECC Division I title in 2021. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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    Griswold’s Kuranda Ruggiero (3) reaches down for a dig during the Wolverines' loss to Coventry in the 2021 Class S semifinals at Bacon Academy in Colchester. Ruggiero is back to lead Griswold this fall. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Division I

    East Lyme

    Coach: Jack Biggs (25th season)

    Key returnees: Sr. S Shae McMunn, Sr. DS Meghan Nagle, Sr. MH Chloe Vaglio, Sr. OH Sydney Lapham, Sr. S-MH, Jr. L Skylar Bell.

    Top newcomers: Jr. DS Mia Williamson, Jr. OH Addison Soleau, Jr. MH Haleigh Miller, Jr. MH Ava Kelly, So. OH Abby Parulis.

    Outlook: The defending ECC Division I tournament champions return a core group which played quality minutes last season, led by Bell. The junior libero is one of the state’s best defenders having earned both Connecticut High School Coaches’ Association Class L and Day All-Area honors as a sophomore. Biggs said that defense and serving will be the keys to a successful season.


    Coach: Elena Lockett (2nd season).

    Key returnees: Sr. MH Katie Tuohy, Sr. OH Annalyn Cahill, Sr. OH Maddie Fancher, Sr. L Madi Aldinger, Jr. DS Tessa Cantone.

    Top newcomers: Sr. OH Dabria Arana, Sr. OH Amelia Lovering, Jr. S Isabella Ditmore.

    Outlook: The Falcons finished 15-7 in Lockett’s first season in charge after 15 years as an assistant and are always in contention for both division and tournament titles. They’re in good shape up front as they return their three leading hitters from last year in Cahill (277 kills), Tuohy (155) and Fancer (111). Ditmore takes over at setter after the graduation of two-year starter Rita Sefransky, who was selected to both the CHSCA Class L and Day All-Area teams. Aldinger and Cantone will lead the defense.


    Coach: Raleighe Orszulak (1st year)

    Key returnees: Sr. OH Katelyn Friday, Sr. L Jillian Dykema, Sr. S/RSH Emma McAvoy, Sr. S/RSH Ella Bean, Sr. OH Norah Tracy, Jr. DS Natalie Rand, Jr. MH Alex Chabot.

    Top newcomers: So. RSH Emma Brayman, So. MH Evelina Klyukin, So. OH Stella Hogan, So. MH Kala Lansford.

    Outlook: The Wildcats are rebuilding following a 3-15 season and a coaching change. Orszulak knows there will be growing pains, but has a good mix of veterans and newcomers to get NFA back on track. Orszluak said she “aims to grow the program amongst all three levels (freshman, JV, varsity) to be more competitive and highly-skilled as ever. ... we look forward to a great season.”

    Note: Division I also includes Woodstock Academy.

    Division II

    Bacon Academy

    Coach: Scott Dumond (6th season)

    Key returnees: Sr. OH Grace Gorreck, Sr. MH Ava McCarvill, Sr. OH Leah Brown, Sr. DS-L Grace Galarneau, Sr. DS-L Jill Fillloramo, Sr. L-OH Megan Swanke, Sr. S-OH Gabrielle Papale, Sr. DS-L Josie Thomson, Jr. OH-MH Meghan Walsh, Jr. DS-L Sammi D'Atri, Sr. S Kiera Stewart.

    Top newcomers: Jr. MH Carolyn Baehr, Jr. OH Maya Mancuso.

    Outlook: The Bobcats are coming off one of the best seasons in program history, highlighted by winning the ECC Division III title and the ECC Division II tournament championship, the latter a first for the team. Stewart, the ECC Division II tournament Most Outstanding Player and a Class M first team pick, is among a whopping eight seniors back for Bacon, which has been bumped up to D-II. “We hope to be competitive in a new division,” Dumond said. “We are returning 90% of our team. …. We would like to build on our successes of last season and compete at the highest level this season.”


    Coach: James Bruno (17th season)

    Key returnees: Sr. S Kuranda Ruggiero, Sr. MH Makayla Neilson, Sr. OH Kaitlin Pasieka, Sr. DS Emily Aviles, Jr. OH Gretta Dombkowski, Jr. DS Ruby Logan, So. OH Abigail Matheson, So. MH Kierra Neilson.

    Top newcomers: Jr. OH-MH Faith Russell.

    Outlook: The Wolverines advanced all the way to the 2021 Class S semifinals before falling to Coventry. This year’s team could get the program back to the semifinals if not the finals. Ruggiero returns after earning ECC Division II first team honors last year. “We have some strong returning players, with a couple of sophomores who worked their way up to varsity at the end of last season,” Bruno said. “We have a well-balanced attack led by an outstanding setter, a tough defense, and should be a strong contender in the ECC and (Class S) state tournament.”


    Coach: Jeff Cummings (1st season)

    Key returnees: Sr. OH Grace Haydash, Sr. S Layla Lasisomphone, Sr. OH Megan Tabraham, Sr. L Bryleigh Johnson.

    Top newcomers: Jr. MH Keara Opalenik, Jr. S Emily Peckham.

    Outlook: Cummings slides over from Wheeler to take over the Colonels, who had a very productive 2021. They finished 18-8 and advanced all the way to the Class M semifinals before losing to eventual champion Weston. Johnson was also named to the Division II honorable mention team last season. “The team has rebuilt after losing some players,” Cummings said. “The strong leadership from the senior core brings experience and community to the Ledyard program this year.”


    Coach: Amanda Tourjee (1st season)

    Key returnees: Sr. OH Marina Colonis, Jr. MB Emerson Lane, Sr. MB Colleen Corman, Sr. DS Mia Petrini, Sr. DS Erica Mugovero.

    Outlook: Tourjee, a Waterford assistant for four seasons, takes over for the Lancers, who went 10-10 during the regular season and reached the Class M state quarterfinals before losing to ECC rival Ledyard 3-2. They suffered some key graduation losses, but return a veteran cast that includes Mugovero, a Division II all-star in 2021. Tourjee expects Waterford’s winning tradition to continue.

    Division III

    Lyman Memorial

    Coach: Emily Sciglimpaglia-Vigue (2nd season)

    Key returnees: Sr. DS Arianna Garcia, Sr. OH Carlee DeRoehn, Sr. S-OH Kassidy LaTour, Sr. DS Mia Attardi, Sr. OH Nina Gardella.

    Top newcomers: Jr. OH Avery Brooks, Jr. OH-DS Rylee Benway, So. DS Erica Arpin, So. DS-S Jenny Lopez.

    Outlook: The good news for Bulldogs’ opponents — Callie Nanos, who was the 2021 Connecticut High School Coaches' Association and The Day’s Volleyball Player of the Year, and Class S all-state pick Fallon Bailey have graduated. The bad news — LaTour returns for her third year as setter for Lyman, which has won three straight CIAC Class S championships and four of the last five. She’ll be helped in the back row by Garcia, a 2021 ECC Division II honorable mention selection. Lyman hopes to win its fourth straight state title, which hasn’t been done by any team since Coventry won seven straight Class S titles from 2006-12.

    New London

    Coach: Missy Parker (5th season)

    Key returnees: Sr. OH Nalyce Dudley, Sr. L Princesse Omotosho, Sr. S Hildalyn Joran, Sr. MH Kmara Royster, Jr. OH Melani Vazquez, Jr. S Keshvi Patel.

    Top newcomers: So. MH Serenity Lancaster, So. OH Ky-Ani Sllgood, Fr. OH Nyarah Dudley.

    Outlook: The Whalers were the ECC’s most pleasant surprise last last season as they won the Division IV crown, the program’s first title, and played in the ECC Division II tournament final. They’d like to continue that success and return a key player in Dudley, an ECC Division IV pick last fall. Parker said New London wants to take advantage of its height up front and believes the Whalers will be a problem for opponents once they solidify their passing and setting.

    Note: Division III includes Killingly and Plainfield.

    Division IV


    Coach: Harold Branstrom Jr. (4th season)

    Key returnees: Sr. S Reagan Buscetto, Sr. DS Grace Galvin, Sr. MH Ava Collins, Sr. MH Karla Flores, Jr. OH Zoie Farrar.

    Top newcomers: Jr. OH Keira Paradis, So. OH Mackenzie Payne, So. DS Alyna Ovalles.

    Outlook: Montville held its own playing in Division III last season and gave New London a run in the ECC Division II tournament semifinals before losing in five games. It will lean on Farrar for offense after she earned herself a place on the last season’s ECC Division III team. Branstrom said the team has a good mix of veterans and newcomers and should be a factor in the division title race.


    Coach: Megan O’Connell (1st season)

    Key returnees: Sr OH Michelle Macina, Sr. MH Skyler Morgan.

    Top newcomers: So. L Abbey Butremovic, So. MH Addison Stanley.

    Outlook: O’Connell takes over the Lions after spending the past two seasons as an assistant and is hoping to improve on last season’s 4-17 record. Macina was an ECC Division IV honorable mention pick last year. “We have many veterans returning to varsity and they are excited to take our game to the next level,” O’Connell said. “It will be great to see how they develop as the season progresses.”

    Note: Division IV includes Putnam and Windham.


    Grasso Tech

    Coach: Kristopher Paradis (1st season)

    Key returnees: Sr. MH Jamilette Montes, Sr. OH Daneysha Cortes, Jr. OH Willanni Diaz, Jr. OH Emily Maclver, Jr. OH Natalie Fan Germosa, Jr. S Antonia Orbe, Jr. OH Alex Santora, Jr. OH Alandra Johnson, Jr. S Abby Lallis, Jr. MH Kariann Colon, So. OH Melanie Hernandez, So. S Faith Oddo, So. OH Emma Pavlak, So. S Cianna Fasano.

    Top newcomers: So. S Serina Sands, So. OH Alicia Amparo, So. MH A'zarria Darden, Fr. OH Jada Murihead, Fr. MH Alyssa Diaz, Fr. S Yira Colon-Brito, Fr. MH Ophila Tilman, Fr. OH Taylor Quintin, Fr. OH Allisianni Glonzalez, Fr. MH Vera Bonville Fr. OH Amari Medina.

    Outlook: The Eagles are under new management as former head coach John Blake stepped down after 15 seasons with longtime assistant Paradis taking over. “We are returning a lot of good players and bringing in some new players with great skills,” Paradis said.

    Norwich Tech

    Coach: Tim Krodel (26th season)

    Key returnees: Sr. OH Kaylee Gray, Sr. S Nancy Johnny, Sr. L Caitlyn Flynn, Jr. MH Alyssa Mikolajczak.

    Top newcomers: Sr. OH Sierra Knowles, Sr. DS Trinity Robinson, Jr. OH-MH Joey Lynn Mills, So. OH-MH Abby Ulrich, So. OH Victoria Tirado, So. DS Autumn Hanks, So. DS Olivia Luurtsema.

    Outlook: The Warriors won eight of their final 15 matches to finish 12-11 and reach both the Connecticut Technical Conference quarterfinals and the second round of the Class S tournament. They’ll try to build on that with a veteran core and an infusion of new talent.

    Old Lyme

    Coach: Erin Crayton (17th season)

    Key returnees: Sr. OH Jamie Bucior, Jr. S Grace Phaneuf.

    Top newcomers: Sr. MH Maggie Curtis, Jr. OH Peighton Andrews, So. S Quinn Arico.

    Outlook: The Wildcats have work to do after graduating eight seniors from last fall’s 12-8 team. “Our fundamental skills are strong and the team is working hard,” Crayton said. “We have a goal of returning to both the Shoreline and state tournaments again this year.”

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