GHS girls' volleyball squad looking to build on experience

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Griswold - posted Fri., Sep. 28, 2012
Jamie Lavallie (17) stretches for a block at the net. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.
Jamie Lavallie (17) stretches for a block at the net. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.

This year’s Wolverine girls’ volleyball team has experience on its side. Coach Jamie Bruno said that about half his squad returned from last year, when the team went through an extensive rebuild after graduation cut the roster nearly in half.

“They were young last year,” Bruno said of his players. “They’re going to be even better this year. We’ve got a lot of growth this year, and we’re hoping to play together more as a team.”

This year, Griswold High School is fielding four seniors: Paige Ansich, Jamie Lavallie, and twins Abby and Emily Slonski. Last year was Emily’s first year playing volleyball, and her performance on the JV team was strong enough to earn her a slot in varsity this year, Bruno said. Because the group of seniors is small, they’ll be working on building depth, he said.

Some of that added depth will come from experienced juniors, like Kasey Ayer, who managed 47 digs in the Wolverines’ initial outing against Norwich Free Academy. As the team’s libero who can fill any back-row defensive position, Ayer “has a huge role as a passer and digger for defense. She‘s playing very good for us,” Bruno said. Fellow junior Kirsten Drobiak, who played varsity volleyball even as a freshman and who is the Wolverines' star pitcher in softball, brings more experience to the squad.

Most of the team’s newcomers are juniors coming up from the junior varsity team, Bruno said. Those players include Sydne Ondreika and Italia Krick.

There were some rough edges to work on in the team’s first match of the season Sept. 14, which they lost to NFA. “We had 17 service errors in that match,” said Bruno. "That’s crazy. Hopefully we’ll get over the first-match jitters.” He expects his team to be “pretty competitive” against other schools now that it’s moved down from Class M to Class S in state competition.

Bruno is in his seventh year coaching at GHS; previously he headed squads in Massachusetts and in Westerly, R.I.

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