The 2015 season didn’t end quite the way the Sheehan girls volleyball team would have hoped.
A first round exit in both the Southern Connecticut Conference tournament and the Class M state tournament ended the Titans season sooner than they would have hoped. But those games against perennial title contenders did wonders for the experience of the players returning for 2016.
Now eight games into the new season, Sheehan is 6-2 with keys wins over Guilford, Sacred Heart and Law, all of which went five sets. The two loses are to Shelton (3-0) and Cheshire (3-1), but coach Grace McCarthy is encouraged by what she has seen so far.
“They’re playing a lot more comfortable with each other,” McCarthy said.
Last season the starting lineup had all four grades represented and McCarthy said it took a while for the players to learn each other’s tendencies on the court. But now after an offseason of training and spending time with one another, it seems like they have gelled.
“Last year our starting lineup had freshman all the way to seniors,” McCarthy said. “It didn’t work for many games, but it worked for some.”
The experience is most notably seen in senior setter Mallory Gogliettino. McCarthy describes her as the glue of the team. She has improved both offensively with her setting and playing defense and her hitters have benefited.
“Now she knows where they all like their sets,” McCarthy said.
Sydney Hunt is one of those attackers who has seen her game pick up this year. She moved from middle to outside hitter this year and has begun playing the back row as well where she can help the team all over the court.
Taking over the middle hitter position has been Nina Musco. After playing in one game last year, she has solidified the front row.
“She did tons of work in the offseason,” McCarthy said. “And now we have a very strong blocker in the front row which we haven’t had in years.”
A step up in competition has also helped the Titans.
The new SCC schedule formula has made it so evenly matched teams are playing each other throughout the season.
“We’ve been playing a lot of teams on our level, ” McCarthy said.
And that helped Sheehan handle the pressure of Cheshire on Tuesday, allowing them to take a set from the Rams, something it didn’t do last year.
“I’m actually really excited to see them on our home court with the confidence we ended [the match] at,” McCarthy said.