WEST HARTFORD >> Led by a strong group of seniors, the Conard High boys volleyball team had a strong 2016 campaign, marked by a pair of milestone accomplishments.
The Chieftains went 16-3 overall and rolled to a CCC Central title by going through the division undefeated under coach Kerry Roller.
“This season went by in a flash, I can tell you that much,” Roller said. “It was a great season, we really just were strong against a lot of teams and you could tell when they were playing in this nice flow of the game.”
That flow was evident for much of the season. Conard won three straight and eight of its first nine matches to open the season.
That run was halted by a 3-0 loss at South Windsor.
Conard rebounded from the loss to reel off eight straight victories, a run that took it all the way to the CCC Tournament semifinals before the Chieftains fell to Southington, 3-1.
“It was a great result for us, but we were hoping to go just a little further,” Roller said. “The schedule was tough. We were playing our third match in three days and it was tough for us, playing only eight guys to play that many matches in a row.”
During the regular season, the Chieftains went 9-0 in the CCC Central, locking up their first title since 2009.
Leading the way to the division title was a core group of four seniors that were leaders on and off the court. Captain Derek Ehle (middle hitter), setter Andrew Olmstead, outside hitter Matthew Morales and outside hitter Kyle Pena-Green all made sure their final seasons as Chieftains were successful ones.
“We had four very strong seniors that carried the team and it was a good core for the team’,” Roller said.
All four of the seniors were all-conference selections.
“All four of them were great leaders and great job leading the team this season,” Roller said.
Roller just ended her 19th season as coach of the boys program and it will go down as a special one. On May 19th the Chieftains swept West Hartford rival Hall, 3-0, to give Roller her 200th victory as boys coach.
“Considering it’s a rivalry game and at that point we had gone 8-0 in the division, it was a special night,” Roller said.
Conard’s season ended against Staples in the Class L quarterfinals. Despite the setback, it didn’t put a damper on a great season.
“Going in we thought we were matched up well and it was a fantastic match,” Roller said. “With a couple less errors here and there we could have forced a fifth game.”
This season Roller had five juniors on the team led by Tyler Dorfman, who recently played in the state junior all-star game. They will be counted on to pick up where this year’s group of seniors left off.
“My biggest hole we will need to fill is setter, we gained some juniors who can hit and have height and athletic ability. Setter we need to fill,” Roller said. “We had five juniors on the team, and they all got playing time through the season and gained a lot of experience.”