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Torrington Volleyball 2010 Preview. New Coach, same high expectations..

POSTED September 14, 2010
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

TORRINGTON- The Torrington girls volleyball team takes to the court tonight for their home and season opener, against an old nemesis in the Kennedy Eagles.

First-year head coach Sabrina Smeltz leads a mix of youth and experience to the court with hopes of making their share of noise in the Naugatuck Valley League.

The Raiders lost six seniors to graduation, although they had lost one after a game and a set a year ago, and that was a big loss.

Julia Giampaolo blew out her knee in her teams second game and missed the rest of the season.

For a team fresh off a Class L State Championship final appearance the year before, the loss was devastating.

A solid group, led by seniors Olivia Weber, Kyla Pollutro, Jessica Eanniello, Chrysta Currier and Erica Heuschkel, kept the team going and ended the regular season with a 10-8 record.

They bowed out in the first round of the Class L Tournament to Branford, by a 3-0 score.

Call it a year that started with amazing potential and ended with less than desirable outcome, although making the States after losing a player of Giamapolo’s caliber speaks volumes about the teams character.

Smeltz, who takes over for Janet Giampaolo, who retired at the end of the season but came back when the Athletic Director position at THS opened up, brings back two key seniors and an aggressive group of underclassmen.

“They have the ability to be competitive,” Smeltz said, “It’s a question of how they adjust to the level of competition they will see in the NVL.”

Scrimmages this pre-season have been intense and the new coach has noticed things about her squad right out of the gate.

“We have a very athletic group of players,” Smeltz said, “If we play our game, we can play with anyone.”

The two seniors, Kelsey Lovallo and Michelle Theroux will need to play well to make up for the temporary loss of a fellow upperclassmen, Jenna Wagenblatt, who injured her knee in a recent scrimmage and has a bad wrist as well.

Lovallo was to be the libero (defensive specialist) but will now move up to the front line, while Theroux will be part of a two-player setter look the Raiders will show this year.

Having a second setter allows more variety at the front line and sophomore Chevona Markel will be setting as well.

“I think it makes us a stronger team with two setters,” Smeltz said, “We will run a 6-2 look this year.”

The biggest challenge for the coach will be in finding out what she doesn’t know going in: her opponents.

“That is the hardest part for me,” Smeltz said, “Being new to the NVL will be an adjustment I have to make as the season goes on.”

Tenth grader, Nicole Kozlak will be positioned as the libero as the season gets underway and will be joined on the court by junior Stephanie Synott (middle hitter), Courtney Magruder (outside hitter) and Baylee Vinisko (outside hitter).

Starting the season at home is always a plus for any team and the Raiders will look to take full advantage of some home cooking as they start to lay out their 2010 identity.

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