Despite its youth, Greenwich volleyball looks to stay strong

The Greenwich High School volleyball team competes in a scrimmage at Greenwich Academy. — John Ferris Robben photo

The Greenwich High School volleyball team competes in a scrimmage at Greenwich Academy. — John Ferris Robben photo

While it won’t be an easy task, the Greenwich High School girls volleyball team still is looking to recapture some of the magic that they produced last year.

Last year, the Lady Cardinals finished the season 22-2 overall and captured the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference in dramatic fashion, beating Staples High School in a thrilling 3-2 (25-14, 17-25, 25-20, 24-26, 15-5) victory. That win was head coach Steve Lapham’s first ever conference championship.

In the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference tournament, Big Red advanced to the class LL semifinals before falling to the same Staples team 3-1 to end the season. Heading into Lapham’s 22nd season as head coach, his record is an impressive 312-130.

However, with the loss to Staples at states, Greenwich saw eight seniors play their final game. Basically the team’s starting varsity lineup was graduating.

“It’s a whole new team,” Lapham said. “We have a lot of new players and a bunch of players that are coming up from JV. We lost eight quality seniors. One was a four-year starter and another was a three-year starter. We lost All-State players and All-FCIAC players. Basically all our starters from the FCIAC championship team were lost to graduation. We are starting off brand new. I don’t call it rebuilding. It’s just a new group of kids.”

Despite the loss of talented seniors to graduation, Greenwich will still have a plethora of talent on the court.

The Cardinals will be returning four members of last year’s varsity team, as seniors Juliette McGinnis, Rachel Revel, Jahaira Guerra and Izabela Chudy and junior Patricia David will provide much-needed experience to the squad.

In fact, the three captains for this year’s team will be Revel, McGinnis and David.

“They bring a lot of effort,” Lapham said. “That group saw what happens in training, what goes into building a championship team and how to win championships. We weren’t always the best team on the court last year, but we were able to pull out the victories. We were a very consistent team. We didn’t hit it out, kept the ball in play and played good defense. That’s what I want this year’s captains to show this group.”

McGinnis will be one of the athletes that will play the outside hitter position, along with the strong passing and defense from Revel at libero.

“It feels really good to be a leader here,” Revel said. “It’s very exciting and it’s nice to be admired by the younger girls here. Our strength will be that we work really well together and get along great. It’s like a family here. I would like to see us develop more and become stronger.”

David will be one of the team’s outside threats this season and her defense will be a strength for Big Red.

“I think being a captain is one of the more exciting things that has ever happened to me in my whole high school career,” David said. “It’s definitely more pressure for me to be a captain, but it’s a great feeling being one of the role models for the younger players on the team.”

For Lapham, he stressed that he needs the team to work together and communicate better in order to be successful.

“We need to bring up their skill levels and then we can compete with many of the teams in the FCIAC and state,” Lapham said. “We aren’t ready to run fancy offenses. We need to get the basics down, get our serves in and pass our serves. We also need to keep things in play and if we can do all that, we will be in good shape.”

Guerra will be key for Greenwich win it comes to her serves, as well as her defensive and offensive abilities.

Greenwich High's Steve Lapham instructs his team during a recent scrimmage. — John Ferris Robben photo

Greenwich High’s Steve Lapham instructs his team during a recent scrimmage. — John Ferris Robben photo

Joining the Greenwich High volleyball program for the first time will be junior Abbie Wolf, a standout on the GHS girls basketball team.

“We asked her last year and the year before and she finally came over this year,” Lapham said. “She’s going give up a big help in the middle. Just her blocking and hitting alone will be huge. With her athletic ability and height, she’s going to intimidate on defense and score on offense.”

Also playing in the program for the first time is the lone freshman on this year’s team, Maggie Egan. Lapham believes that her setting abilities will help her see a bunch of varsity time this season. Also playing setter and sharing time with Egan is junior Bizz Fretty.

Nadia Sotgiu, a sophomore will also see some time as an outside hitter and Lapham said that she plays great defense in the back row. Fellow sophomore Morgan Rafferty will also try to see some time as an outside hitter.

Joining Wolf in the middle will be fellow junior Samantha Schecter and Lapham said that Schecter has shown significant improvement during the offseason.

“Sam is hitting the ball really well and getting up high,” Lapham said. “I couldn’t be happier with the way she’s worked to get better. I’m looking for big things from her this year.”

Chudy will also be seeing significant time this season in the middle. Junior Caroline Beneville and sophomore Micaela Lew will look for some time at outside hitter.

“Right now we are running nine or 10 players out there because they are all along the same level,” Lapham said. “No one has really separated themselves.

Although Big Red is young and inexperienced at the varsity level, they won’t have much time to put their skills to use. Right from the start, teams throughout the conference will be looking to play their best against the defending FCIAC champions.

“I think we can be very good, but the problem is that we have to get pretty good this first month as we develop our skill sets,” Lapham said. “We are going to play a lot of tough teams this year. If we can keep our head’s above water and win a lot of the close games, we can set ourselves up so that way when this team does mature into October, we can make some noise in the FCIAC and states.”

Also, Greenwich’s schedule is going to get challenging very quickly. Trumbull, Ridgefield, Fairfield Ludlowe and Stamford are looking to have very strong seasons.

“Like usual, we expect to get into FCIACs and states,” Lapham said. “If we can get our skills a lot better, I think that this team can win either one of those or maybe both. The states are tough, but the FCIAC might be tougher this year. There are a lot of teams that are loaded in the conference. If we could get into FCIACs and do well there, that can set us up well for states.”

However, Lapham knows that the team needs to greatly improve throughout the year if they plan on reaching the postseason.

“We need to communicate better and buy into the players that are on the floor,” Lapham said. “Once they do that, we can do more of an advanced offense and defense. We can’t do that until we get the basics down. It’s great that we are willing on defense to get on the floor and get the ball in the air. Our middles, passing and defense is our strength right now, but hitting, setting and seeing the court needs to come along more, especially on the outside.”

“We need to be a very consistent team and very scrappy because we are a young team,” David said. “I think as the season goes by, we are going to be one of the best teams around.”

By participating in the comments section of this site you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and User Agreement

© Hersam Acorn. All rights reserved. The Greenwich Post, 10 Corbin Drive, Floor 3, Darien, CT 06820

Designed by WPSHOWER

Powered by WordPress