Pretty (fantastic) in pink

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Woodstock - posted Thu., Oct. 18, 2012
Woodstock Academy boasts seven seniors. Photos by D. Coffey
Woodstock Academy boasts seven seniors. Photos by D. Coffey

The Woodstock Academy girls' volleyball team steam-rolled NFA on Oct. 17, putting on a fantastic offensive and defensive show. Wearing pink shirts in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, they dispatched the Wildcats 25-12, 25-9 and 25-10.

Coach Adam Bottone, in his 11th season, credits some of the team's tough play to a culture he and his assistants have been trying to create at Woodstock. In a perfect world, his players would be playing year-round. “If they're touching the ball year-round, it's going to benefit us,” he said. He pointed to Coventry, Southington, Darien, RHAM – all state champions, the majority of whose players are committed to the sport year-round. “We're trying to do that without having too much of a negative effect on other sports,” he said.

Bottone has been fortunate. Many of the Centaurs play regional and high-performance club volleyball. And a core group of players who started two years ago have grown increasingly and incredibly better at the game. When the seven seniors on this year's team were sophomores, Bottone and his staff saw a boatload of potential. “We made a conscious decision to go with the sophomores,” he said. “We knew we were going to take our lumps but we'd get experience.” That experience has paid off and produced some phenomenal players, according to Bottone.

Sam Forst anchors the Centaur's defense as libero. According to the coach, outside hitter Sam Geddes is the best player Bottone has coached in 11 years. “She sees the potential and does everything in her power to win,” he said. Julia Low works hard and can put the ball away. “She's a phenomenal player,” he said. Mary Leonard and Danielle Faries have been top notch middles. “Mary's a girl we almost cut at the beginning and now she's one of best middles I've ever had here,” admitted Bottone. And junior Sarah Swenson's play has grown exponentially in the last two years. “She's probably the hardest hitter on the team,” he said.

Bottone's attempt at creating a volleyball-focused culture seems to be taking hold. “It's a challenging thing to do because you have to change a mindset,” he said. “You have to get rid of excuses. You just have to get out there and play hard with an urgency no matter what.”

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