By MICHAEL LETENDRE
PLAINVILLE – To start the 2013 campaign, the Plainville volleyball team went 2-3 and it’s certainly an improvement over the first five games from last season.
Those wins have come against Middletown and Naugatuck Valley League foe St. Paul in a big showdown.
The Blue Devils swept the Falcons 3-0 on Friday, Sept. 13.
“We were slow to get going with St. Paul and were even through a good part of the first set and then pulled away,” said Plainville coach Steve Compson. “We kept a good part of the momentum in sets two and three. It is always good to get that first win under the belt and it put us halfway to last seasons win total.”
And then just last week against Middletown, a squad Plainville has had problems with over the years, Plainville swept the squad by scores of 25-22, 25-23 and 25-23.
Getting by the pesky Middletown squads on the schedule is necessary if Plainville has any kind of postseason aspirations.
“We slugged it out with Middletown, a big team that was very scrappy,” said Compson. “I thought after winning the first two sets and gaining a lead in set three, we rested and Middletown almost made us pay for that. We are not a team that can ever afford to coast. But an ugly win is still a win and we equaled last year’s win total. That accomplishment is not something we will celebrate as we expect to win more, our goal every year is to earn a berth in the state tournament.”
“We have to make a run.”
And then there was a road game against currently undefeated and defending CCC South, CCC Tournament, and Class L champs, Bristol Eastern.
Not a fun game on the road but Plainville rose to the occasion even as the Blue Devils dropped a 3-0 decisions to the Lancers.
“I think BE was our best played game of the year so far,” said Compson. “We played them much tougher than ever before and I think we might have had them worried at certain points. But they are a championship program and rallied out of every hole we had them in. They had sustained excellence in their program and they brought it out to great benefit.”
“In a previous season, we only had four points in a set with them and Coach Roy and I realized that we did not earn those 4 points…on Wednesday, these Lady Blue Devils earned some points.”
The Eastern gymnasium is a intimidating place to play but Plainville wasn’t intimidated in the least.
Unfortunately, it’s a numbers game and in terms of players, skill set, and bench play, the Lancers are simply head and shoulders over the competition.”
“We had some of our most consistent play and a bigger hitting night for us, despite being down a player (and later losing another),” said Compson. “Before you can win games, a CCC South title, and championships, you have to be competitive and on this night at Eastern we were.”
Compson was hoping to bottle some of that outstanding play and effort for its challenge last Friday against Platt.
Platt, however, might be the surprise team in all the CCC South this season.
The Panthers zipped up a 3-0 sweep against Plainville from the Ivan Wood Gymnasium.
“We played a sub-par game against Platt, very poor passing,” said Compson. “It seemed like everything we did well one night we did poorly the next., our competitive fire was doused by our own actions.”
Several players have stepped up to start the season and Compson has seen some leaders step up on the court.
“Alicia Gorksi continues to impress with her hustle, attitude and leadership,” said Compson. “She is always in motion and always trying to get her teammates up and going. The ‘Southington Sensation’ Jen Micowski has been in working with the team and I think her tribute to Alicia said it best.”
“‘She has impressed the hell out of me’ was how Micowski summed up Alicia’s work in practice and games.”
To those who know the great competitor Micowksi was in her playing days in Southington, that is quite a compliment.
And Alicia earned every ounce of it.
“When Marisa Rizzo went down, she had no problem switching from setter/hitter to libero and did a great job for us,” said Compson. “If it’s best for the team, Alicia will do what is needed.”
Compson has gotten stellar play out of Rizzo – Plainville’s libero – this season but an injury during the Eastern loss hampered her over the final two games of last week.
“Marisa really has the heart of a warrior, we found out after the game just how much pain she was in (back pain),” said Compsom. “It hurt her to even walk a bit and we had to take her out of the third set. She tried to go in the Platt game but only lasted a few plays. She reminded me of Willis Reed of the Knicks and if people don’t’ know that famous story they should know it. She has that type of spirit.”
“We hope we can get her back in action soon…as a captain she leads by example and she sets a high example.”
Finally, Sarah Ercoli has been a pleasant addition to the team and certainly knows her way around the volleyball court.
As she gets more comfortable with the different facets of the game, Ercoli will get better and better.
“Sarah Ercoli had a great night serving versus Middletown and had their defense confused,” said Compson. “She is a very talented player and reads defenses well. She kept them guessing and frustrated and ran off 10 or 12 straight service points. As a long-time setter, she is still adjusting to hitting and passing duties but by pushing herself she can adapt well to almost any situation.”