CONWAY – It all comes down to how the Eagles receive the serve. That’s how coach Craig Bartolomei sums up Kennett High’s volleyball fortunes this fall. If the team does a good job receiving and can make plays, the hometown herd will be competitive.
“It’s hard to say how the season will go, but if we receive well we will be able to compete with a number of teams,” Bartolomei said.
The Eagles moved to Division II this fall. Kennett filed a Division II petition at DIII two years ago. The New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association reevaluates petitions on two-year cycles. KHS, due to its registration, was considered a Division II school.
“The best Division II teams we’ll see will probably be better than the best Division III teams,” Bartolomei said.
As the Eagles went 2-14 and missed the 2021 Division III playoffs, the hometown herd made big strides on the court with their play.
Kennett lost only one senior — senior middle hitter Jozelyn Henry, the team’s co-captain — at graduation last June.
“We played well down the stretch,” Bartolomei said. “We improved and although we didn’t beat Newfound, Plymouth or Kingswood, we played well against them. The girls competed. We were able to continue the exchanges, but these teams had players who could score points, and we are not there yet.
He added: “I was impressed with the way we played and how we competed.”
Bartolomei, who is in his fourth year in charge of the program, is joined again this fall by reserve team coach Robin Ward.
There are 29 girls on the team – eight seniors, six juniors, five sophomores and 10 freshmen.
“Initially we had 19 freshmen enrolled, but to have 10 in the program is great,” Bartolomei said. junior.”
He added: “The more people we can get to see the sport, try it and love it, the more likely they are to tell their siblings and others about it. That’s how we will develop the program.
Without a college food program and living through the past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mt. Washington Valley Volleyball Club hasn’t been as active as it might have liked.
“I’m not planning a college program,” Bartolomei said. “The path I’m trying to take is to do intramurals across the club every Sunday this winter. If we can get girls in grades four to eight playing, that’s a start. We want make it affordable ($50 for winter) I’d like to do a few weeks of practice working on the skills and doing some drills and then let the girls play amongst themselves.
“When COVID hit it put a damper on a lot of things. The club somehow fell off the face of the earth. Now it’s kind of like we’re starting over.
Members of this year’s varsity team include seniors; Grace Acone, Angelina Adams, Olivia Arias, Victoria Brocato, Karina Knapp, Ceili Mahoney, Lagan Tatarczuk, and Lillian Whitney; juniors Kylie Jacobs-Carr and Stella Keeler; and sophomores Hailey Boynton and Naomi Plummer.
The junior varsity team members are juniors Haley Dupre, Mackenzie Morehouse and Tiana Wiggin; sophomores Jemma Dimock, Brooklyn Grout and Bella King; and freshmen Elaina Ladd, Marlie Liebenow, Zamora MacPherson, Bownyn Sherlock and Seretta Spaulding.
Jacobs-Carr, Boynton and Plummer vacillate between college and the JV team.
The reserve team members are junior Aine Muzerall and freshmen Mackenzie Day, Romey Doyle, Kailey Elias, Kairi Joaquin and Veronica McIndoe.
Ladd, Liebenow, MacPherson, Sherlock and Spualding see action in the reserve and JV teams.
Knapp, for the second straight year, along with Tatarczuk and Keeler are the team captains this year.
“I think the success of the season will depend on the reception,” Bartolomei said. “I have confidence that we will serve well enough. If we can receive and move well enough and reach the ball, I think we will be competitive.
Boynton, Brocato and Knapp are all passers; Jacobs-Carr, Keeler, Plummer, Tatarczuk and Whitney are outside hitters; Arias and Mahoney are middle hitters; Acone is a defensive specialist; and Adams is again the team’s libero.
The Libero is a player who specializes in defensive skills: the Libero must wear a shirt in the contrasting color of his teammates and cannot block or attack the ball when it is entirely above the height of the net. When the ball is not in play, the Libero can replace any player on the back line, without notice to the referees.
Bartolomei said the Eagles will mostly play a 5-1 or 6-2 offense.
The 5-1 has a setter playing all six rotations with five attackers – two outside hitters, two middle blockers and one opposite. The 6-2 has two setters and six forwards – two outside hitters, two middle blockers and two opposites.
Acone and Adams are the team’s top receivers while Keeler and Tatarczuk are also capable, athletic, high-moving receivers, according to Bartolomei.
Kennett got off to a 1-2 start from the field this fall. The Eagles lost 3-0 at ConVal in the season opener on September 1; fell 3–0 in their home opener to defending state champions Coe-Brown Northwood Academy on 7 September; and won 3-1 at home last Thursday against county rival Carroll Kingswood for Homecoming.
“The Kennett varsity volleyball girls have realized that if they play their game, move and talk, they can win games,” Bartolomei posted on Facebook. “They received well. They played incredibly well defensively, being where they were supposed to be and making great plays. They had key net play with blocks and hits. They did what they could and they won. »
He added: “They deserved the win in the four sets they played. After losing the first set, 25-23, the girls won the next three sets 25-14, 25-22, 25-20. They deserved it with their game. And I’m quite proud of them. »
“Against ConVal, we lost the first game 25-19, didn’t receive good service in the second game and lost it 25-11, and received much better service in the third game, which we lost 25-23,” Bartomolei said. .
He added: “Against Coe-Brown, who I think has almost everyone back from last year’s Championship side, we didn’t play well. I think the girls knew we were playing a good team and that led to some nervousness and sloppy play.
Kennett hosted Manchester West on Wednesday night. The results were not known at the time of going to press.
Bartolomeo has one main goal, that his team continues to improve every day.
“I don’t care who we lose to or who we beat, but I care that we play the game the right way and keep improving.”
He added: “We have a very good group. They are all ready to work and want to improve, which is music to my ears as a coach.