By Gerry deSimas Jr.
CANTON >> There is a sense of excitement in the gym. And plenty of smiles. After failing to win a single game in its first varsity season, the Canton High girls volleyball has already won two matches this season.
The Warriors earned their first varsity victory with a 3-0 sweep over The Gilbert School on opening day. A few days later, Canton had its first-ever home victory with an exciting 3-0 win over Enfield.
The Warriors were pleased. But winning wasn’t a surprise. This is a team that has been working hard in the offseason.
“The big difference is experience,” Canton co-coach Helen Treacy said. “We’ve upped our intensity in practice and virtually all of them played summer volleyball. That is significant. They played together at the Valley Sports Center. They did a lot in the offseason.”
A year ago, Canton got its first taste of varsity volleyball and the speed of the play. They went 0-16 and 0-14 in the NCCC. This year, they find that they can play with the opposition.
“They’re better as a team,” Treacy said. “They know each other now. They’re communicating better. They understand the game more.”
Senior setter/hitter Ariel Steinfeldt had 15 aces and three blocks as Canton opened the season with a 25-10, 25-20, 25-19 decision over Gilbert. Freshman Amber Harradan had four blocks.
Harradan is one of two freshmen in the starting lineup for the Warriors along with Rachel Falzone. Harradan is also a setter and hitter for Canton.
Also in the starting lineup is senior hitter Lindsay Sugar, a first-year volleyball player and a former soccer player, sophomore Emma Plourd and seniors Isabelle Albin and Alyssa Murphy. Hope Hiza is playing liberio, a defensive specialist.
Treacy is working with Samantha Brady as the coaches.
After beating the Yellowjackets, Canton dropped a pair of matches to Sports Medicine Science Academy, 3-0 (25-10, 25-20, 25-13) and Suffield High, 3-1.
The Warriors got back on the winning track with a 3-0 decision over Enfield. Canton prevailed 25-14, 25-22 and 25-21. In game three, the Warriors rallied from a 18-14 deficit to earn the victory.
Steinfeldt had seven aces serving the ball, Harradan had four hits while Plourd played a solid game for the Warriors.
“They took over against Enfield,” Treacy said. “It is fun to watch them grow. And it helps when fans are there.” Treacy said it was an electric atmosphere in the Canton gym as the Warriors battled Enfield. It was the first home victory in the team’s brief two-year history.
Canton (2-5, 1-5 NCCC) needs to win eight of its 20 games to earn a berth in the Class S tournament in November. The top six teams qualify to play in the NCCC league tournament on Nov. 1-2.
As part of alumni weekend events next week, Canton will host Suffield on Friday afternoon at 4 p.m.