ALL-RJ VOLLEYBALL: A perfect 10 for an imperfect season

ALL-RJ VOLLEYBALL: A perfect 10 for an imperfect season



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MERIDEN — All right, look, we’ve got high volleyball standards around here.

We’re used to gaudy records and deep runs in the postseason.

We didn’t have those things this year. The best record was 17-6 (Cheshire and Wilcox Tech) and the deepest run was the Class L quarterfinals (Platt).

Still, we had a good season.

Six of the seven area volleyball teams made the postseason and two of them — Cheshire and Platt — won division championships in the regular season.

Individually, we had an All-State player in the mix. Nine made All-Conference.

So, yeah, OK, maybe we didn’t have a pair of 18-0 teams like we did a year ago with Southington and Cheshire. Maybe we didn’t have a bunch of top seeds for the state tournament.

We still, as always, had good volleyball. And we had 10 girls leading the way — one libero, two setters, two middle blockers and five hard-swinging outside hitters.

Suit ’em up. They comprise the 2019 All-Record-Journal Girls Volleyball Team.

Cheshire

Coach Sue Bavone’s club went 14-4 overall in the 2019 regular season and captured the SCC Hammonasset Division.

Postseason frustration followed. The Rams were unseated as two-time defending SCC Tournament champions by Shelton in the semifinals. In the Class LL state tourney, Cheshire beat Simsbury in the first round before bowing out to eventual state champion Trumbull in the second.

Bottom line: a final record of 17-6 and another fine season for a fine program.

It was led by Lindsey Abramson. The senior outside hitter returned to the All-RJ Team for a third time and to the All-SCC First Team for a second.

Ultimately, Abramson also made All-State for a second straight year, this time with a promotion. Second Team a year ago, she was First Team this year and invited to play in the CHSCA Senior All-Star Game.

The stats validate the status. Abramson racked up 194 kills and 71 aces. Both were team highs. 

Cheshire had two other All-SCC First Team players: senior libero Ari Perlini and senior setter Emma Watkinson. Both were shoo-ins as All-RJ.

Perlini, who joined Abramson at the CHSCA Senior All-Star Game, led the Rams in digs with 166. She also dropped in 48 aces.

Watkinson set the stage with 440 assists. A multi-sport athlete who also plays basketball and softball, Watkinson showed her versatility with 73 kills, 52 digs and 33 aces.

Southington

It was a rare middle-of-the-road year for the Blue Knights, who went 9-9 in the regular season a year after going 18-0.

Southington did gain some redemption upsetting Newington in the first round of the Class LL state tournament.

Rising to the occasion that night was Rachel Possidento. The junior middle put down a season-high 10 kills to send Southington into thet second round, where elimination awaited at the hands of Fairfield Ludlowe.

Hitting at a 36.3 success rate, Possidento had 103 kills for the season. She also amassed 21 blocks.

Possidento wound up on the All-CCC team and she’s made All-RJ, too.

A second All-Conference player for Southington, senior outside hitter Brooke Cooney is All-RJ Honorable Mention. Filling multiple roles for the Knights, Cooney collected 140 kills, 155 digs and 54 aces.

Wallingford

Sheehan and Lyman Hall flip-flopped from 2018 to 2019. This time around, Sheehan (9-11) qualified for the state tournament while Lyman Hall (7-13) fell one win short.

Head to head on the floor, they were dead even. Sheehan won the first rivalry game 3-0 on Oct. 3. Lyman Hall returned the favor on Oct. 28. Each won on the other’s home court.

The latter match was part of a strong closing run for the Trojans, who took five of their last six and should carry the momentum into next season. They featured a number of strong underclassmen, led by outside hitter Mackenzie Grady.

Only a sophomore, Grady was this year’s youngest All-Record-Journal selection. She put up double-digit kills on eight occasions and finished with a team-high 182.

Grady was also a big part of the LH defense. Her 205 digs and 337 serve receives were second on the team only to libero Katie Madow.

Grady was named All-SCC Second Team.

Across town, the Titans were led back into the postseason by their junior hitter, Caitlyn Hunt.

All-RJ in volleyball and basketball last year as a sophomore, Hart was back in the volleyball fold after putting up 164 kills, 63 aces and 20 blocks.

“Cait has been the powerhouse of our team since her freshman year,” said Sheehan coach Victoria Sperrazza. “She is a very strong component to our program and has always been a player we can count on.”

Meriden

All three Silver City squads made it to the posteason. Once there, Platt stole the headlines by knocking off New London and No. 4-seeded Naugatuck to reach the Class L quarterfinals.

The run came to a halt against SCC champ and eventual Class L runner-up Guilford.

WIth a final record of 14-8 and the CCC South-Colonial Division title to their name, the Panther have two players on the All-RJ team and two Honorable Mentions.

For starters, we welcome back Caitlyn Hart. Platt’s fourth-year setter made All-RJ for the second straight season with some staggering numbers in her senior seasons: 488 assists, 157 digs and 87 aces.

In the second-round Class L upset of Naugatuck, Hart handed out 46 assists.

Hart’s prime recipient was fellow All-CCC player Aaliyah Burnley, who had 20 kills that night in Naugatuck. The junior middle finished the year with 217 kills and 34 blocks.

Burnley is one of the few area players who played well above the net.

“She’s above the net before she even jumps,” quipped Hart.

The Honorable Mentions for Platt were junior Jazmir Hudson and freshman Emily Hart.

Hudson, an Athlete of the Week nominee, was strong in all three phases of the game – hitting (161 kills), defense (130 digs) and serving (58 aces).

Emily Hart, Caitlyn’s younger sister, led the Panthers with 101 aces and 219 digs.

Next door on Oregon Road, an exceptional four-year career came to a close at Wilcox Tech for senior captain Chloe LaBissonierre. All-RJ and All-Conference a year ago, LaBissoniere was All-RJ and All-Conference once again after putting down 187 kills and serving up 113 aces in 2019.

That production fueled a 17-6 season for the Tribe.

And, lastly, we welcome Maloney’s Brooke Lathe to the All-RJ fold. The senior outside hitter was the clear-cut leader for the Spartans, who went 9-11 to reach the Class L state tourney.

Lathe led the East Siders with 160 kills and was second on the team in digs at 150. She was named All-Conference.


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