MOODUS >> It wasn’t the smashing opening night result Hale-Ray girls volleyball coach Suzy Miner was hoping for. But there wasn’t a better way to start the season than battling one of the state’s best teams.
Class S champion Coventry topped the Noises, 25-23, 25-19, and 25-21 Friday night at Moodus. The intriguing non-conference affair was a rematch of last year’s Class S semifinal in which the Patriots eliminated Hale-Ray en route to the school’s 10th state title.
“Tonight was a good chance to see where we are,” said Miner, now in her 13th season. “We feel it’s best for us to play tougher competition. It tested us and will prepare us for the postseason. We’re hoping to see them again.”
Nicole Trudon had 24 digs, while Miraela Nodwell dished out 24 assists to lead the Patriots (1-0).
The Noises are coming off a magical season in 2015. They rolled to a 19-1 mark during the regular season, edged Morgan in a thriller to win their first Shoreline Conference championship, and captured three state tournament games before getting derailed by Coventry.
“They were talented last year but they didn’t know what to expect in terms of success,” Miner said. “They realized over the course of the season, that ‘Hey, we’re good and we can do something special.’ This year they have high expectations. They know the level of their talent and the goal is repeating as Shoreline champions and to win a state title.”
Pease (setter) and Connors (middle hitter) are getting looks from schools like Franklin Pierce, SUNY-Albany and the University of Rhode Island. The pair got a chance to play together in the offseason with the nationally ranked 17U Huskies.
“Them playing a lot together over the winter was great because at their positions timing is really important,” Miner said. “Sage and Mary both have strong volleyball IQ’s, probably the best I’ve ever coached. They have put in a ton of hard work since their freshman year and you can see things really coming together this year.”
Along with senior Aidan Fiala, senior libero Kyra Vumback, senior Kayla Rivera, junior Callie Burke and sophomore Skyler Rapuano, the Noises have the pieces again to make another run at a SLC title.
“They are determined,” Miner added. “They are going to go for it and build on last year’s success.”
Hale-Ray travels to North Branford on Wednesday.
“This is the first time I can remember not really knowing how some of the teams in the Shoreline are going to be,” Miner said. “But we know if we compete and play the way we’re capable of playing, we’re going to be successful.”