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    Saturday, December 03, 2022

    East Lyme makes quick work of NFA in ECC D-I volleyball match

    East Lyme’s Abby Parulis (8) hits a ball over the net against a pair of NFA players during Wednesday night’s ECC Division I match at East Lyme. The Vikings swept the Wildcats. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    East Lyme’s Addison Soleau (10) leaps to tap the ball over a pair of NFA defenders during Wednesday night’s volleyball match at East Lyme. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    NFA’s Emma Brayman (12) rises to make a play at the net during Wednesday night’s ECC Divison I volleyball match at East Lyme. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    East Lyme’s Carolyn Pace (13) celebrates a point with teammates during Wednesday’s ECC Division I volleyball match against NFA. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    East Lyme — There have been days this month where the East Lyme volleyball team has taken tough losses, including one to Eastern Connecticut Conference Division I rival Woodstock Academy.

    Then there are days such as Wednesday when the Vikings are clicking and dropping aces on an opponent.

    Conversely, there have been similar days for Norwich Free Academy. The Wildcats beat Woodstock last week, then just couldn’t get it into gear against East Lyme.

    The ECC Division I has been a scrum early in the season with each of the four teams taking turns knocking one another off. Such was the case again Wednesday as East Lyme swept past NFA 25-10, 25-12, 25-13 in under an hour.

    “We have a lot of older leadership,” Vikings head coach Jack Biggs said, “but they always played second fiddle to the team that was out here last year, which was a very good team that we developed. So they’re still trying to find their identity. I believe that once that confidence sets in there, we’ll play a little more consistent.”

    East Lyme (5-3, 2-1) lost to Woodstock in five games on Monday. It also has a three-game win over fellow ECC Division I foe Fitch.

    The Wildcats (2-4, 1-2) beat Woodstock in five games on Sept. 23. They’re in their first season under head coach Raleighe Orszulak and finished 3-15 last season.

    “We’re trying to build a new program,” Orszulak said. “We have a lot of talent on our team. We’re just trying to rework how they’re playing, their drills, their mindset, everything. It’s kind of building from the bottom up.

    “It’s been great. I think the girls are really enthusiastic. We have a lot of younger girls. … We’re trying to build team camaraderie, the culture, the climate. Not just on-the-court stuff but off-the-court stuff, too.”

    (Woodstock, by the way, beat Fitch in three games on Wednesday).

    The Vikings flustered the Wildcats at the service line and went on long runs. Senior Shae McMunn had five aces in addition to her 17 assists while junior Skylar Bell added nine aces and 10 digs.

    “I wasn’t really sure how we’d do but I’m really impressed with the girls,” McMunn said “A lot of the sophomores, they’ve been able to bring a lot of effort to this team and we’ve been able to push through, and we keep getting better each game just the more and more we get to play.”

    Sophomore Abby Parulis had 10 kills for East Lyme while junior Mia Williamson had nine digs and senior Meghan Nagle added six digs.

    “We’re just trying to find who we are and what level we can play at and get them to believe that they can play at a higher level consistently every night,” Biggs said. “That was our goal — to get to the second half of the season and be more competitive.

    “We took a tough loss to Woodstock the other night, a very good Woodstock team. We had to regroup and come back.”

    East Lyme always has high expectations as one of the region’s perennial powers and one of the few ECC teams to win a state title (it won Class L in 2010-11). This year’s team is also one season removed from winning the ECC Division I tournament title.

    “Being a senior this year, I’m really just trying to help the younger girls out as much as I can and just building that team connection,” McMunn said. “We’re all about positivity, just lifting each other up because that’s how we’re going to get better as a whole with positivity; just helping each other.”

    n.griffen@theday.com

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