By KEN MORSE
The Plainville volleyball team comes in with some high expectations after learning to compete last season, armed with 10 seniors who are on a mission. It’s safe to say that when head coach Bob Moffo took over the team two years ago the cupboard was bare following a 17-3 season under coach Jen DeLorenzo that sent the Blue Devils to the Class M quarterfinals.
After graduating the entire starting lineup and seven seniors, coach Moffo had to assemble a squad built around four seniors with only two having varsity experience. Plainville struggled to pick up the pieces and went 0-20.
Last season the light appeared at the end of the tunnel as the Blue Devils learned to compete, breaking a 30-game losing skid along the way, before finishing with a record of 2-18. This year’s group of seniors were freshman during that quarterfinal run and are adamant about getting back to the state tournament.
“A lot of the girls went to camp this summer,” said Moffo, who along with assistant coach and daughter Michelle West are excited about the Blue Devils chances this season. “We were also involved in the Bristol Crush volleyball league. So these girls have come back eager to go and with a positive attitude. I really think we have the ability to make it back to the state tournament this season.”
In a game where ebbs and flows dictate the outcome, having the right attitude can go a long way in getting over that hurdle.
“There were times last year when we played great, diving to the floor for loose balls and charging the net for kills. Then we had times where one mistake led to another and before you knew it we became unraveled,” said the coach. “If we can stay positive and get through the rough spots we have a chance to be successful.”
It will start up front on the net with a couple of difference makers in senior Katharine Tanguay (5 blocks per game) and sophomore Wiktoria Galazyn (6 kills per game).
Communication, especially in the middle of the court, will be key. Plainville learned how to fight last year as shown in a tough 3-1 loss to Hartford Public, when it dropped games by scores of 27-29, 23-25 and 23-25.
Wins over Wilby (3-0) and Middletown (3-2) gave the Blue Devils something to build on. Seniors Olivia Wazorko and Olivia Gajor work the middle row and set up the offense. Seniors Makayla Caron, Margaret Cronkhite and Kaylie Hall all have experience working the ball over the middle.
Seniors Mackenzie Alvarado and Vanessa Xiques bring a presence at the net and senior Simona Babagallo guards the back row. Senior Emily Savage will be relied on for her overall game passing, setting and bringing up digs.
Junior Annie Roux and sophomores Lillian Wazorko and Kimberly Xiques all have varsity experience and will provide depth off the bench.
The sky is the limit for this group of eager athletes looking to get Plainville back to the state tournament. For cupboards that were once bare, coach Moffo will have all he can do to keep the doors closed this season with 14 players who are ready to make the difference.
Plainville will get the season underway on Friday Sept. 13 at 5 p.m. when they host NW Catholic.