Fourth-year head coach Tracie Capodice is searching for the right nucleolus of players that will help the team qualify for the post-season. Last season the team finished with a 5-14 record and was on the outside looking in at the Class S tournament.
Capodice will need to replace the immense production of 2013 team captain Lauren Schmitt, who graduated. Junior Araya Lessard will head a committee of players that will help shoulder Schmitt’s productivity. Lessard, who also stars on the hardwood for the Panthers, led the team in blocks and finished second in both kills and digs last season.
Fellow junior McKenzie Karstetter will also help fill the leadership void. She played exceptionally at the end of last season, helping the team win two of their final three games.
The team opens on the road Tuesday, Sept. 9, at Haddam-Killingworth High School. The Panthers lost both meeting to the conference rival Cougars last season. Cromwell returns for their home opener Wednesday, Sept. 17, for a date with East Hampton at 5:30 p.m.
Newington Primed for Next Step
The Indiands rebounded from a winless 2012 and made the Class LL tourney in their second season under the guidance of head coach Patrick Douglas. After a slow start to last season, they won six of their final seven regular season games and earned a spot in the 2013 tournament.
Junior Carley Wanner-Hyde returns after leading the team in assists (453) as a sophomore. The setter was also the team’s serving specialist, finishing with a team-high 50 aces.
Gabby Gratchev and Alexis Souza will also be back for their senior seasons. The tandem finished first and second in kills during the 2013 season. The pair also excelled at serving, finishing with the second and third most aces on the team.
The Newington spikers open at Simsbury Tuesday, Sept. 9. The conference foes split the two meetings last season. The Indians returns to the friendly confines of Newington High School Friday, Sept. 12, to face Wolcott at 5 p.m.
Rocky Hill Rebuilding or Reloading?
Rocky Hill had a tremendous start to last season, but nearly missed the postseason after losing four of five matches to close out the regular season. The fast start was good enough to earn the Terriers a spot in the Class M tournament, where the team made a miraculous postseason run, upsetting three teams before losing in the semifinals. One of those upsets came against Lewis Mills, the 2nd ranked team in the tourney.
It was the second-straight deep tournament run for Scott Ferguson, who is entering his third season as the team’s head coach. Ferguson is hoping to recapture the championship magic of the 2011 Terriers, who won the Class M finals.
The team will need to replace a lot of senior leadership, including last season’s captains Krista Iacobucci and Kirstyn Arcata. One of the players that will assume more of a leadership role will be senior Marissa DiMatteo, who played very well late in the season.
Junior Caitlin Perkins will be counted on to be the team’s distributor. She’ll be replacing Emma Skultety, who registered every assist for Rocky Hill last season
The team opens with a conference match against E.O. Smith Tuesday, Sept. 9, at 5 p.m. The Terriers will be looking to exact a measure of revenge after losing both matches verse the Panthers last season.
Wethersfield’s Wins Continue to Increase
Wethersfield finished with a 10-10 regular season and made the 2013 Class L tournament, before losing in the first round of the tourney. The ten victories was a milestone for the team and head coach Debbie O’Brien, who also coaches the boys’ team at Wethersfield, has seen her team’s win-total increase in each of the past five seasons.
In order for the team to increase their wins for a sixth-straight season they will have to replace last season’s star Kelly McDonald, who graduated following an all-conference senior season. Senior setter Lian Hoffman will again in be charge to spreading the ball around to a cast of players looking to fill McDonald’s vacancy.
The Eagles have a great opportunity to have success early when they begin the season with four consecutive home games. Their opener is Tuesday, Sept. 9, at 5 p.m. against Weaver, who they swept last season. All of the Eagles’ homes games are played at Silas Deane Middle School.