E.O. Smith ends successful volleyball season

By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Storrs - posted Tue., Nov. 12, 2013
Holly Worski jumps for the ball. Photos by Melanie Savage.
Holly Worski jumps for the ball. Photos by Melanie Savage.

The E.O. Smith girls’ volleyball team overcame several health-related obstacles to put together a very successful season this year. After the first full practice of the season, head coach Gail Murphy slipped on some water and injured her foot and ankle. She spent a good portion of the early part of the season wearing a boot, often sidelined during practices.

On the team there have been shin splints and a stress fracture of the spine. And, during an early-season game against RHAM, junior Alexandra Anagnostopalos came down awkwardly after a jump and tore her ACL.

“She’s doing great, her attitude is great,” said Murphy. “I think it was really an eye-opening experience for the girls, though.” Anagnostopalos has been out for the remainder of the season, but hopes to return in 2014 for her senior year.

But through it all, the team persevered. “They’re doing exactly what they need to do,” said Murphy. “I think it made us stronger in the long run.” The team went on to finish the regular season with a 17-3 record, two of those losses coming at the hands of RHAM, ranked number two in Class L. “We gave them a game, and that was pretty exciting for us,” said Murphy.

E.O. Smith earned a number nine seed heading into the tourney. They defeated Bacon Academy and Woodstock during the first two rounds. “We’ve had a great run,” said Murphy. “This particular group is a very talented group. They really like each other. They get along well off the court as well as on.”

Having coached the team for six years, Murphy said this was the first group that had made it to the quarterfinal round of the state tourney. The Panthers were scheduled to face Farmington, ranked the number one team in Class L.

Looking ahead to the game, Murphy felt her team had a shot at victory. “We know that we’ll have our work cut out for us,” said Murphy. “But we’ve been playing better than ever. If there’s ever a time we’d be ready to go up against a team of that caliber, it’d be right now.”

E.O. Smith ended up providing Farmington with a challenge, especially during the first game of the match, which ended with a score of 25-20. But in the end, Farmington took the match in three games, ending E.O. Smith’s season at the quarterfinal round. 

Murphy expressed pride in her players. Captains Carly O’Day and Kayley Crooke “are the most mature, responsible young women that I’ve met in a long time,” she said. Crooke was chosen to play for the senior all-star game. “That’s a huge honor,” said Murphy. Middle-hitter O’Day, “has worked really hard and surpassed all expectations,” said Murphy.

Seniors Holly Worski and Cristina Vincente are both multi-sport players and tremendous athletes, said Murphy. “Holly is probably one of the best athletes to have gone through E.O. Smith,” she said. Of senior Colleen Tyler, Murphy said, “When she gets in, I know she’ll get the job done.”

Junior libero Megan Leavens “is a true warrior,” said Murphy. “She keeps the team on an even keel and serves as the defensive glue for the team.” Junior Laura Townsend “Loves the game and has been very effective in the front row for me,” said Murphy. And junior Olivia Wallet is just an all-around strong player, according to Murphy. Up from JV last year, “She has improved so much since last year,” said Murphy.

“I can’t say enough good things about each of these girls individually,” said Murphy. “I’m a proud mama when it comes to those girls - well-respected, great students. They’re just great kids. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

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