By BRIAN JENNINGS
The Lady Devil volleyball team finished last year’s regular season with a 17-3 record and qualified for the Class M tournament for a second-straight year, sharing the CCC South White Division title with Platt. It was only the second season for former head coach Jenifer Delorenzo, and it was also the first time the program had achieved 17 or more wins during the regular season in years.
Many thought that Plainville had a chance to make it to the Class M title match, and some even believed that the Devils could possible win it all. Then, it all just kind of disappeared.
After getting shut out, 3-0, by Glastonbury at home in the quarterfinals of the CCC tournament, Plainville advanced to the quarterfinals of the Class M tournament before they fell in five sets to eventual champion, Seymour. After the season ended, Delorenzo stepped down from the program, and the Devils were left to start all over again.
One day during the offseason, Bob Moffo received a phone call from Plainville athletic director Chris Farrell and was asked if he would be interested in taking over the program as head coach of the varsity team. The 61-year-old JV coach was reluctant at first.
“At my age, I enjoyed coaching JV and was fine with it,” said Moffo. “I work in the Wolcott school system, so to go to Waterbury was no big deal.”
But Farrell wouldn’t take no for an answer. He pleaded his case to Moffo.
“He told me that he would love to have me here and that I was respected by other coaches,” the coach said. “He told me that people liked me.”
Moffo was brought in to the high school to meet with Farrell and Plainville administrators. He was also introduced to some of the Lady Devil volleyball players, but Moffo still wasn’t sold on the position.
Before being interviewed for the job at Plainville, Moffo spent two nine-year stints coaching the junior varsity girls volleyball teams at Southington High School and Holy Cross High School in Waterbury. For several of the nine years he spent at Southington High School, he worked under current head coach, Rich Heitz. The other nine years at Holy Cross were spent with his daughter, Danielle, who is the current head coach of the Lady Crusaders.
Moffo said that he learned a lot at both schools and valued the experiences.
“Working with Rich Heitz over at Southington was phenomenal,” said Moffo. “My daughter Danielle was a former Blue Knight player, so she played for Rich and knew the game very well. It’s kind of nice when you all stay together.”
Both Southington and Holy Cross girls volleyball teams ran very similar drills in practice. Most of the drills exemplified aggressiveness.
“Nothing leaves the court,” the coach said. “You leave everything on the court. I learned a lot of that from Rich and my daughter Danielle.”
Taking a head coaching position in high school girls volleyball was something that always intrigued Moffo. But after taking an assistant coaching position alongside his daughter at Holy Cross, it was something that he thought he might never do.
Being a Sacred Heart High School graduate, he knew a lot of the coaches at Holy Cross and got along very well with them.
“I passed up a lot of other opportunities,” said Moffo. “I loved coaching with Rich, but when I went with my daughter, it was a nice bonding thing for her and I. I really looked forward to it.”
However, Moffo wasn’t the same after meeting members of Plainville’s administrative staff and the girls volleyball team that day. He went home that night and talked to his family about taking the position. Both his wife and daughter thought he should, so Moffo changed his mind and was willing to give it a shot.
“It was something I wanted to do years ago, but I just kind of got complacent,” the coach said. “My wife and daughter told me that this was a shot for it though.”
During Moffo’s time at Holy Cross, the Crusaders fell short of winning their first CIAC Class S title in their first Class S championship appearance after falling, 3-0, to Coventry in 2012. The win marked Coventry’s seventh-straight title that year.
Moffo said that he hopes to ultimately get back to the final by bringing Plainville there because, to him, there’s no other feeling like it.
“It was awesome,” said Moffo. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Unless you’ve ever experienced it, it really is amazing.”
Although he has experience from reaching the pinnacle of the sport, this is still Moffo’s first head coaching gig. He said that he is confident he can run a successful program at Plainville, and if anything is mentioned about last year, he wants his team to disregard it immediately.
“We’ll learn the game and build on the game,” the coach said. “I told them that I didn’t know them, and they didn’t know me. We’re going to come in new and start fresh.”
Moffo said that he doesn’t plan to implement any major changes into the program. But as far as the game plan goes on the court, he plans to have the girls run mostly a 6-2 offense with two setters and two blockers in front, mixing it up between the front and back rows.
“We don’t have a lot of size,” said Moffo. “So, we’re going to have to move as quickly as possible and keep our feet moving. Our attacks are going to have to be quick because, from what I’ve seen, we’re going to be outsized by a few inches against a lot of players.”
To overcome the size difference, Plainville’s serving has to be aggressive, and their passing has to be as crisp as possible.
“We’re going to be limited to where we’re going to be able to place the ball,” the coach said. “But as the season goes on, hopefully things change and people improve. We’ll just move forward.”
Seniors Caitlin Bradley, Isabel Lozefski, Anna Stehle, and Desiree Wesolowski will the lead the Devils this season as the team captains. Bradley and Stehle will play in the back row. Lozefski will be in the front row, and Wesolowski will most likely play multiple areas on the court as an all-around player.
“They’re all ready to step up and lead the team,” said Moffo. “They’re staying very aggressive and talking with each other, communicating well with the underclassmen.”
Any coach would say that they would love to take their team to a state championship. But in his time at Plainville, Moffo said that he ultimately wants to get the program up and running and to a point where Delorenzo had the team before she left.
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