Eagles eye post-season behind return to full strength

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Tolland - posted Fri., Oct. 26, 2012
Sam Sadler uses her height to swat a ball over the net in the Tolland Eagles' 3-0 victory over East Catholic on Oct. 24. Photos by Steve Smith.
Sam Sadler uses her height to swat a ball over the net in the Tolland Eagles' 3-0 victory over East Catholic on Oct. 24. Photos by Steve Smith.

The Tolland High School girls' varsity volleyball team is having a special year. The seniors on the team are the first class of players who will go on to the state tournament all four years, and the team's recent and anticipated improvements will likely carry them far.

“That's never happened before in the history of the program,” said coach Mike Lewis, after the Eagles' 3-0 win over East Catholic on Oct. 24, which improved their record to 13-4 with one game remaining against E.O. Smith on Oct. 26.

Lewis said his team has become consistent in all categories – defense, blocking, serving and finishing, and it is peaking at the right time. “I thought we started really slow this year, defensively, but we've really picked that up. We're getting to more balls and blocking better. We have a pretty good rotation now of kids that can play,” he said. “We're actually playing our best volleyball right now that we've played all year.”

As the team prepares for the CCC and state tournaments, the focus is on getting key middle hitter Chelsea Domian back after an injury, and keeping everyone else healthy. "She's a big blocker, so when we get her back, our defense will really start to gel,” said Lewis, adding that he has confidence in his hitters, including the team's captain and outside hitter Kelsey Lewis (the coach's daughter), who can make big offensive plays from anywhere on the court, and her supporting cast is able to tee it up for her drives.

“We have [plays] where we can get her the ball in lots of places,” Lewis said. “We run an offensive scheme that's not for her, specifically, but if we need a ball down, we have ways that we can get it to her. We need a diverse offense, in order to make the defense on the other side make a decision.”

When asked if that strategy of throwing off opposing defenses has worked, Lewis replied, “Oh yeah.”

Lewis said the team had goals at the beginning of the year, and making it deep into the state tournament was one of them. Tolland is, at press time, ranked 8th in class M and 11th in the CCC standings.

For complete standings and playoff brackets, visit www.casciac.org.


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