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    Thursday, June 20, 2024

    2023 High school volleyball preview capsules

    Emerson Lane, who helped Waterford win the ECC Division I tournament title and reach the Class M state semifinals, is back for the Lancers this fall. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Following is a team-by-team look preview of the 2023 high school volleyball season:

    ECC Division I

    East Lyme

    Coach: Jack Biggs

    Key returnees: Sr. DS Mia Williamson, Sr. L Skylar Bell, Sr. MH Addison Soleau, Sr. MH Haleigh Miller, Sr. RS Ava Kelly, Sr. DS Lillian Brush, Sr. DS Ariana Spera, Jr. OH Abby Parulis.

    Top newcomers: Jr. DS Avery Stadler, Jr. MH Julia Moores, Jr. DS Isabella Jarmillo, So. OH Finnely Wilson, So. S Bella Diep, So. RS Taylor Kachinsky.

    Outlook: Bell, an all-state libero, returns to lead the Vikings who went 18-6 a year ago, won the Division I regular-season title and reached the Class L semifinals. Biggs said East Lyme has great senior leadership which should guide them through a difficult ECC and non-conference schedule, adding, “We will rely on defense and serving as the keys to a successful season.”

    Fitch

    Coach: Elena Lockett (3rd season)

    Key returnees: Sr. L Tessa Cantone, Sr. S Isabella Ditmore, Sr. DS Trinity Sweat, Sr. Camille Monsale.

    Top newcomers: Sr. OH Abigail Malone, Jr. MH Katie Virtue, Jr. MH Kami Ortiz, Jr. OH Sage Overmoyer, Fr. OH Jillian Fuger, Fr. OH Madison Nahass.

    Outlook: The Falcons reached the ECC Division I tournament final and finished 13-11, but graduated a large senior class, including Class L all-state outside hitter Annalyn Cahill. Lockett said Cantone will led the defense with Ditmore and Monsale handling the setting duties. The ability to develop a young, talented group of newcomers quickly will be key to a successful season.

    NFA

    Coach: Raleighe Orszulak-Borecki (2nd season)

    Key returnees: Jr. OH Stella Hogan, Jr. OH Evelina Klyukin.

    Top newcomers: Fr. S Savannah Guernsey, So. S Faustine Canales Arrieta, So. RH Petra Berry, Jr. MH Emily Orcutt.

    Outlook: The Wildcats went 3-15 a year ago and return to rebuild in Orszulak-Borecki’s second season. NFA is young and playing in a tough division, but hopes to be more competitive as it gains experience.

    Note: Division includes Woodstock Academy.

    ECC Division II

    Bacon Academy

    Coach: Scott Dumond (7th season)

    Key returnees: Sr. MB Carolyn Baehr, Sr. MB Maya Mancuso, Sr. S Kiera Stewart, Sr. OH Meghan Walsh, Sr. L Sammi D'Atri, Jr. OH-DS Dominique Sanchez, Jr. DS-OH Bailey Handwork, Jr. RSH Julia Cavaliere.

    Top newcomers: So. OH Madeline Meyer, So. RSH Leyia Hall, So. S Jillian Snow.

    Outlook: The Bobcats went 11-9 a year ago, losing a tough five-game match to ECC Division I champion Waterford in the Class M first round. Stewart, a two-time Class M all-state pick, returns to lead a lineup that should be competitive within the division and features a good mix of veterans and young players.

    Griswold

    Coach: Jamie Bruno (18th season)

    Key returnees: Sr. OH Gretta Dombkowski, Jr. OH Abigail Matheson, Jr, OH Kierra Neilson.

    Top newcomers: Sr. MH Olivia Gasparino, Sr. RS Ilah Marsh, Jr. RS Emma Brayman, Jr. S Summer McLean, Fr. S Bella Bruno.

    Outlook: The Wolverines were 19-0 during the regular season and reached the Class S semifinals before losing in five games to eventual champion East Hampton. Gone are all-state libero Emily Aviles and all-state setter Kuranda Ruggiero, The Day’s All-Area Player of the Year, but plenty of talent, led by ECC All-Star Matheson, returns. “It will take some time to get our new setters up to speed,” Bruno said, “but we will be ready to make some noise come tournament time.”

    Ledyard

    Coach: Jeff Cummings (2nd season)

    Key returnees: Sr. L Kylee Gill, Sr. MH Keara Opalenik, Sr. S Emily Peckham.

    Top newcomers: OH Isabella Schweitzer, RS Sarah Banach, DS Claire Fenaughty, MH Isabelle Treaster, OH Shyann McKeon, MH Ava Oliver, RS Hailey Parks, DS Natalie Rand.

    Outlook: The Colonels, who qualified for the Class L tournament last season, graduated seven players, so Cummings will lean on his three senior veterans to lead the way. “The team has a strong sense of unity, skill, and determination, and is ready to face the challenges of the new season head-on,” he said.

    Waterford

    Coach: Amanda Kostek (2nd season)

    Key returnees: Sr. RH-DS Kecelia Hill, Sr. DS Emma Way, Jr. MH Addison Mobley, Jr. OH Brielle Kenney, Sr. MH Emerson Lane, Jr. DS-L Ava Majeski.

    Top newcomers: So. OH Jennifer Macca-Barnes, So. S Danica Agsalud, So. DS Addison Brothers, Jr. DS Lyra DeAngelis, Jr. RS-OH Katie Dziecinny, Jr. S Kayleigh Jones, So. MH Lucy Walker, Sr. DS Zoe Zito.

    Outlook: The Lancers had a postseason to remember in 2022, winning the ECC Division I tournament as a three seed and reaching the Class M semifinals. Lane, an all-state second team pick, leads a Waterford team which did take some significant graduation hits, but Kostek said, “I am confident we have the right people the fill those spots. It's going to be a new team that will turn a lot of heads when they see the skill coming from such a young team.”

    ECC Division III

    Lyman Memorial

    Coach: Scott Stonoha (1st season)

    Key returnees: Sr. MB Avery Brooks, Jr. L Erica Arpin, Jr. S Jenny Lopez, Sr. OH Rylee Benway.

    Top newcomers: So. MB Casey Gigliotti, So. S Ayanna Dillman.

    Outlook: Lyman’s reign as Class S state champions ended last season with a quarterfinal round loss to ECC rival Griswold. Stonoha takes over a program that suffered some big graduation losses, including all-state pick Kassidy LaTour. He respects the Bulldogs’ history as a small-school state power and is confident Lyman will make deep runs in the ECC Division II tournament (the Bulldogs are the defending champion) and the state tournament.

    Note: Division includes Killingly, Plainfield and Windham

    ECC Division IV

    Montville

    Coach: Harold Branstrom

    Key returnees: Sr. OH Zoie Farrar, Jr. S Mackenzie Payne, Sr. OH Keira Paradis, Jr. L Alyna Ovalles, Sr. OH Anika Nhem.

    Top newcomers: So. MH Savannah Malinowsky, So MH Anna Bubucis, So. OH Lix Maffeo.

    Outlook: Farrar is a returning ECC all-star who returns following the Wolves’ 6-14 record in 2022. Branstrom is looking forward to developing a talented freshman class and expects Montville to be competitive within the division. “We look forward to a season of success, development, competition, and love of the game,” he said.

    New London

    Coach: Missy Parker (6th season)

    Key returnees: Sr. OH Malahika Paulo, Jr. MH Serenity Lancaster, Jr. MB Kyani Allgood, Jr. S Raelyn Lopez, Jr. S Cashel Jones S, So. OH Nyarah Dudley, So. DS Myrna Pratts.

    Top newcomers: Jr. OH Jadelise Garrett, Jr. DS Amaya Outler, So. OH Mercedes Pratts, Fr. S Adriana Vitorino, Fr. L Alyse Manley, Fr. L Willianis Rivera.

    Outlook: The Whalers move down to Division IV. They return Lancaster, a Division III all-star last year, but Parker said two key returning players are out with injuries, so newcomers will be a key. “We plan to use our height, athleticism, and work ethic to propel the program to positive outcomes,” Parker said.

    Wheeler

    Coach: Megan O’Connell (4th season)

    Key returnees: Jr. L Abby Butremovic, Jr. MB Addie Stanley, Jr. S Allison Needham.

    Top newcomers: Sr. OH Maddie Wagner, Jr. OH Carissa Manfredi, Sr. DS Jaime Dimock.

    Outlook: The Lions went 18-7 last season, reaching the ECC Division II tournament final and the Class S quarterfinals. They also return an ECC all-star in Butremovic. “We’re excited to see what the season brings,” O’Connell said. “The team is building on what they learned last year and I anticipate they will continue to improve throughout the season.”

    Note: Division includes Putnam.

    Others

    Grasso Tech

    Coach: Kristopher Paradis (8th season)

    Key returnees: Sr. OS Kariann Colon-Rodriguez, Sr. MH Natalie Fana-Germoso, Sr. OH Alandra Johnson, Sr. S Abigail Lallis, So. RS Jada Murihead, Jr. OH Emma Pavlak, Sr. S Antonia Orbe, Sr. MH Alexandria Santora.

    Top newcomer: Fr. OH Calianix Mercado.

    Outlook: The Eagles went 4-14 last season, but return the bulk of their lineup and Paradis expects Grasso to challenge for top honors in the Connecticut Technical Conference. “We also have some great new players and we are excited to watch them improve their skills this season,” he said.

    Norwich Tech

    Coach: Tim Krodel (23rd season)

    Key returnees: Sr. MH Alyssa Mikolyczek, Sr. MH Joey Lynn Mills, Jr. OH Abby Ulrich, Jr. DS Olivia Luurtsema, Jr. S Autumn Hanks.

    Top newcomers: Jr. OH Victoria Tirado, Jr. L Taylor Roberts, Jr. S Lorlena Johnny.

    Outlook: Krodel said its been an interesting preseason. Norwich Tech’s gymnasium won’t be operational until Sept. 18, so the NFA AD Roy Wentworth and head coach Raleigh Orszulak-Borecki have allowed the Warriors to access their facility to prepare for the season. Said Krodel: “Even with the setback, the young Warriors (only two seniors) expect to qualify for another Class S state tournament and compete for the Connecticut Technical Conference championship.”

    Old Lyme

    Coach: Erin Crayton (18th season)

    Key returnees: Sr. OH Peighton Andrews, Sr. S Grace Phaneuf.

    Top newcomer: So. MH-RSH Maya LeQuire

    Outlook: The Wildcats have enought talent and experience to make a push to qualify for both the Shoreline Conference and Class S state tournaments. “With the dedication and energy the seniors are bringing to the court,” Crayton said, “I am confident that they will reach their goals.”

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