By KEN MORSE
The Plainville volleyball team is young, inexperienced and a work in progress. The team heads into the third week of the season still looking to break into the win column but first year head coach Bob Moffo continues to see progress and it’s only a matter of time.
Plainville slipped to 0-4 on the season dropping 3-0 outcomes to Northwest Catholic last Wednesday (16-25, 10-25 and 16-25) and Northwestern (6-25, 8-25 and 17-25) last Friday.
“We are a young team,” said Moffo. “We have four seniors but two have not played before and this is my first year here, so it’s a learning experience for all of us.”
The Blue Devils hosted Northwest Catholic and Coach Moffo was hoping the familiar surroundings would bode well for his young team. Plainville did take control early on building leads of 4-1 and 6-4 in game one.
Senior captain Caitlin Bradley and sophomore libero Simona Babagallo were getting the job done guarding the back line with juniors Victoria Corriveau and Natalia Boltromiejuk bringing up returns from the middle row.
Both teams stepped onto the court looking for the first win of the season and that brought a sense of urgency to the front row. Senior captain Desiree Wesolowski and sophomores Katharine Tanguay and Olivia Gajor gave the Blue Devils a presence at the net.
Junior Josie Rupaka served up the last lead for Plainville at 10-9 before they surrendered the serve to Northwest Catholic. Francesca Discenza went on a tear aided by five unforced errors to hand the Green and White a convincing 20-10 advantage.
Miscommunications out on the court and several anxious returns glanced out of bounds as NW Catholic took over the game. But the one thing they couldn’t wrestle away from the Blue Devils was the team’s resolve.
Senior Anna Stehle and Gajor shook off the deficit and calmly served up aces to close the gap. But the deficit was too great to overcome as Teagan Dillon (10, digs, 9 aces) closed out the 25-16 win for the Green and White.
“The girls are playing with a lot of enthusiasm and heart,” said Moffo. “The mistakes we are making can be corrected and because of their positive attitude we are making progress.”
In game two senior Isabel Lozefski began to assert herself at the net putting pressure on the NW Catholic middle row. It was a back and forth start with the Green and White pushing ahead by a slim 5-2 margin.
That’s when the inconsistencies of a young and anxious Plainville team allowed NW Catholic to take advantage leading to several extended runs in serve getting on top 12-3.
Gajor served up another ace and Babagalla got enough on a return that it was mishandled by NW Catholic for a side out. It was quite clear at this point that Plainville may have been trailing on the scoreboard but they weren’t going anywhere. They were in this fighting for every point and every return regardless of the score.
“We have some kids who never played volleyball before and they are being thrown into the mix,” said Moffo. “Our communication was off a little bit today. But I do see some positives that we are building on and it’s only a matter of time before we put it all together.”
Through sheer will power the Blue Devils had battled back closing the gap at 13-6. NW Catholic continued to find space on the open floor but it did little to slow down the determination of Plainville. Trailing 20-8 Samantha Lozefski charged the net and managed to get a fist on a return causing a side out and getting the serve back for the Blue and White.
NW Catholic finally was able to settle the matter and build a commanding 2-0 advantage heading into game three following the 25-10 win in game two.
The Green and White stormed out to a commanding 10-1 lead in game three. But Plainville showed to themselves that they can be competitive. Defensively they strung together several consecutive returns and Corriveau reeled off four aces during a six point service run the longest of the match for Plainville and suddenly it was a game 11-7.
Junior Alyssa Roy was getting to every ball over the middle and junior Samantha Paradis came on to try and jump start the Blue Devils. Wesolowski sent and ace down the far sidelines and just like that Plainville was back in it trailing 13-10.
Junior Avalon Borra and Rupaka served up aces down the stretch but NW Catholic managed to hang on to the 26-16 win completing the three game sweep of Plainville.
Corriveau led the Blue and White attack with nine service points and seven aces. Rupaka, Gajor and Wesolowski all had three service points each.
The Blue Devils are back in action this week at New Britain on Monday, hosting Tolland on Wednesday and at Maloney of Meriden on Friday looking to break into the win column.