Three years have flown by for Abby Harbinson. The rest of the Southern Connecticut Conference may beg to differ.
With one final year of high school ahead of her, Harbinson will have the task of leading the Amity volleyball team deep into the postseason, while also reflecting on an incredible three-year ride to date.
How impressive has Harbinson been? Consider these numbers as she prepares to begin her final season wearing the Gold and Black.
Harbinson has 758 career kills, 148 blocks, 80 aces, 164 digs, and 27 assists. Those numbers pale in comparison to what Harbinson and her teammates really want, and that is a chance to be the top team in the state.
The Spartans (19-5 last season) upset Cheshire in the state tournament and were within one match of taking home the Class LL title one season ago, losing to Greenwich in the state finals. Harbinson and her teammates have had over eight months to think about the last time they were on the court.
“Cheshire was a great team last year and they will be a great team this year,” Harbinson said. “We always look forward to playing them. It was a tough loss to Greenwich in the finals, but I think we learned a lot from it. I think we can use that to fuel the fire. We see the hard work it takes to reach our goal.”
It is a new year, and the reigning Register Area Most Valuable Player does not plan on going out quietly. Aside from a late-season ankle injury in her junior campaign, Harbinson dominated.
“She is a good player who definitely continues to be a big part of the team,” Amity head coach Seth Davis said of Harbinson. “She is the type of player who works hard all the time. She will fill a new role, not just being a very good player, but a good leader. She will have a dual job. She is a big part of building this program, not just a team for this year.”
“It has been great,” Harbinson said. “It has been really awesome seeing the young players and how excited they are to learn. This is the first time we have really snapped back into it and looked at the season and what our goals are. We have to put in the work. I love it. I love working with the younger kids and see them getting better every day. I see myself in them with how much they want to learn and get better.”
Gone from last season’s team are graduated players Dani Nordyk, Jaiden Williams, and Brooke Matyasovsky. The trio played key roles in leading the team and that role now falls to Harbinson, who was also a captain as a junior last season along with Williams and Matyasovsky.
This year, Harbinson, who has already committed to play volleyball at Division II Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, will be part of a trio of captains again along with senior libero Olivia Pisano, and senior right side hitter Amelia Taddei. That group will be expected to nurture and guide a younger team which has an unforgiving schedule to start the season with Branford and Cheshire on tap in the first three matches.
“All my captains this year have been working hard,” Davis said. “They are looking to build a new team from what we had last year. They want to start their own story.”
The Spartans will also look to senior middle hitter Caroline Fertman, junior middle hitter Megan Carpenter, and senior outside hitter Madeline Adzigian to provide the punch up front.
“It is good because they have the desire to replicate what we did last year,” Davis said. “They want to return to the state finals. They have played a lot of competitive volleyball. We want to do as well as we can.”
Last season, Harbinson was such a force in the middle, opponents had to figure out a way around her. That proved to be harder to act on as she completed a season, which saw an injury take time away from the court, with 335 kills, 49 blocks, 50 aces, 86 digs, and 14 assists.
“I think it (injury) helped,” Harbinson said. “Everyone had a chance to step up and shine. It definitely helped me see the team and court from a different perspective. I got to appreciate everything and was able to bond with my teammates on and off the court. I think we have several girls who are versatile enough to play different positions. We have a great group of girls who are hard workers. I see different players who bring different things to the table.”
Harbinson was also a Coaches All-State first-team selection, Southern Connecticut Conference Player of the Year, and SCC first-team pick in 2017. Any time missed was made up in the postseason with stellar efforts and a thrilling win over rival Cheshire in the state tournament.
That win over the Rams is a special one as Davis hopes the players remember that feeling and what the team is playing for early in the year.
“One of the girls, Megan Carpenter, played a lot when Abby was out last year,” Davis said. “She and others gained valuable experience. Hopefully, we can continue to improve. Her injury helped as you could see others get that experience and you could see their desire to get out there and get better. We have some young players who are improving. “
“I am excited to help out in any way I can,” Harbinson said. “I love seeing the other players and how versatile they are. We have different players who can play different spots. It definitely helps with everything we are trying to accomplish. My role is to help the team grow the program to be successful in the coming years as well.”