By MICHAEL LETENDRE
PLAINVILLE – After quite an improvement by the Plainville volleyball team in 2011 – a 9-9 finish including an impressive 3-2 victory over Berlin during the regular season – the squad took a bit of a step backwards one year later and generated only two victories.
And that’s a trend head coach Steve Compson would like to reverse.
There’s some returning talent coming back to the fold and expect a better performance by the Blue Devils in CCC South action.
But how much will Plainville improve?
Let’s take a quick peak at the 2013 volleyball squad from Plainville:
Head coach: Steve Compson (seventh season)
2012 record: 2-15 overall, 2-12 in CCC South play
Strength: Returning players
Returning veterans: Marisa Rizzo (sr.), libero; Alicia Gorski (sr.) setter/defense; Sarah Thompson (sr.) middle; April Lemanski (sr.) middle.
Players to watch: Emily Duda (jr.) middle; Emilia Filipkowska (jr.); Sarah Abdulsame (jr.); Bri Lagassy (so.) libero; Shatsado Lovan (so.); Martha Bartamejuik (so.).
Analysis: Off the nine-win campaign in 2011 and the two victories in 2012, Plainville is looking for a boatload of improvement.
The only victories last season came at the expense of Bulkeley and coach Steve Compson is hoping for a radical change in 2013.
Compson is looking for big things out of his “big four” of Marisa Rizzo, Alicia Gorski, Sarah Thompson, and April Lemanski – Plainville’s senior core – and that’s where the success of the program will begin and end.
That crew has played all winter long on various teams and have more than a couple matches under their collective belts.
Compson hopes that those four leaders will take the squad back into the playoff picture.
Rizzo is the squad’s libero while Gorski will act as setter and a critical defense presence.
Thompson has been an invaluable server over the past few seasons while Lemanski should be tough in the middle.
Junior Emily Duda also will hang out in the middle while juniors Emilia Filipkowska and Sarah Abdelsame could also contribute.
Duda could help out on the line, Filipkowska plays hard and could be a force at the net while Abdelsame has the potential to be a defensive force down the road
The sophomore class may chip in with Bri Lagassey, Martha Boltromiejuk, and Shatsada Lovan and any kind of bench would be of big help to the Plainville squad.
Lagassey might be a future libero in the making. Boltromiejuk has shown some real tools on the court. Lovan also can do a little bit here and a little bit there.
Compson said there is some talent throughout the ranks of the freshmen class and only time will tell if someone could help out at the varsity and junior varsity levels.
And, Compson isn’t just looking for skill on the court but some other intangibles players could bring to the court.
“The coaches will be watching close to see if these girls or others step up and show PHD (Passion-Heart-Desire) and volleyball skills and knowledge,” said Compson.
Who’s the team to beat in the CCC South: Plainville won’t be able to duck too many teams in league play as the South once again is overly loaded with some of the state’s top squads.
Defending CCC South and Class L champion Bristol Eastern might have lost three pieces to its 23-1 squad – including 5-foot-11 jumping jack Karissa Smith who is now Western Connecticut State University’s best player in only her freshmen campaign – but return its clever setter, a critical middle plus its 6-foot-2 warrior that goes by the name of Cheyenne Orsi.
Bristol Central returns a host of players and both Meriden teams are always tough to top.
Tough stretch of the year: After starting the season with five of its first six games from the friendly confines of the Ivan Wood Gymnasium, the Blue Devils will be on the road for five straight games – and seven of eight overall.
The only home game during that stretch is a battle with Class L champion Bristol Eastern on Wednesday, Oct. 9.
2013 Plainville girls volleyball roster
Head Coach: Steve Compson
Seniors: Marisa Rizzo; Alicia Gorski; April Lemanski; Sarah Thompson; Michele Thibodeau
Juniors: Emily Duda; Emilia Filipkowska; Sarah Abdelsame; Stefany Barbagallo.
Sophomores: Bri Lagassey; Shatsada Lovan; Martha Boltromiejuk; Emily Kerfoot; Myranda LaPira; Mackenzie Litke