By MICHAEL LETENDRE
HARTFORD – Plainville volleyball coach Steve Compson saw some improvement during the 2013 scholastic season.
And it was a big lift from the two-win 2012 campaign in which the only squad the Blue Devils could muster a victory against was hapless Bulkeley.
While its 6-12 ledger in 2013 still wasn’t able to qualify Plainville for state tournament play, the Blue Devils improved its record three-fold.
And Plainville was in playoff contention into the final week of the season.
But two elusive victories against Berlin (1-3) and Sports Medical and Science Academy (0-3) shut down any possible playoff berth.
“From the bottom of my coaching heart, I wanted better for them,” said Plainville coach Steve Compson.” But players have got to make plays. Coach can make substitutions, coach can say things. We had the great Jen Micowski helping us out this year, trying to make an impact with the kids. I think they took some of what she had to say but I don’t know if they took all of it.”
Micowski is a tough taskmaster and she certainly was a voice the players easily recognize and respond to.
The last time the Blue Devils went to the postseason, the team boasted talented players like jack-of-all-trades warrior Alle Caponigro.
She was a leader on the floor for Plainville over the years and Compson made a great call by bringing her back into the fold.
Caponigro and Micowski certainly brought some invaluable experience to the squad and if the duo can stick, it will pay off down the road into next season.
“My assistant coach, my former player Alle Caponigro, did a great job for us this year as our JV coach,” said Compson.
A couple matches slipped away that could have made the final week of the season a bit less pressure filled.
The home contest against Rockville (2-3) was just a near miss.
The Redcoats were down this season and Plainville gave Berlin two big fights and certainly in its first showdown against Central, the Blue Devils showed poise, fight and a willingness to compete on the floor.
Something just seemed to missing from the group in the end analysis.
“We just didn’t put it together as much as we could have,” said Compson. “We had some things we could have (done for) some better play all around with people on this senior team, and we just didn’t put it all together this year.”
Team leaders and seniors Alicia Gorski, Marisa Rizzo and Sarah Thompson along with Sarah Ercoli, April Lemanski and Michele Thibodeau came close to getting the job done in terms of playoff qualification but it just wasn’t enough.
Gorski was certainly tough on the court, as was Rizzo, while Thompson could pound the ball over the net and never gave up on the play.
Ercoli could make things happen on the court and in the squad’s last game from Hartford, Compson was hoping for one last victory to send his senior core off into the sunset in style.
The Tigers would allow it and swept Plainville in straight sets.
“I was really hoping for these seniors who’ve done so much for the program and have a little icing on the cake and go out a winner,” said Compson after the contest in Hartford.
But Compson will take the improvement any day.
And in the games where Plainville did not take a set, the team showed some grit. When all of its cylinders were firing as one, the Blue Devils showed glimpses of what it could be.
Unfortunately, it was only glimpses at a time.
“Last year, the two wins we had against the program we beat weren’t that good and we weren’t competitive last year,” said Compson. “I think you saw us this year where we played very competitively against some of the better teams. And that’s one level…to rise up and play the tough teams really hard.”
“But then we were playing teams more our speed so to speak, and then you’ve got to bring that more with you…too often, we didn’t do that this season.