Welcome to uncharted territory for the Guilford girls’ volleyball team.
Sure, the Indians have had some very good teams before. They’ve made it to the Southern Connecticut Conference finals and the CIAC finals, but this is very new.
Try 17-1 new.
Guilford came into the season with bright hopes. The Indians finished the regular season with a 10-9 mark a year ago and were beaten by Platt in the first round of the CIAC Class L tournament. There were plenty of seniors returning and a couple others. Add in a couple of freshmen (Emma Appleman and Juliet Young) that have infused an enormous amount of energy with their appearance in the starting lineup and it’s a whole new world in the world of green and white.
“I think it’s been a perfect storm in a good way,” Guilford coach Laura Meyer said. “We have a lot of returning starters and two talented freshmen, who play significant roles. Their style makes us better than we were last year.”
There’s also been more communication and that comes from the team coming together.
“I think there’s always separate groups of friends in volleyball, but everyone plays together,” Guilford co-captain Julia Hyman said. “We’re a lot better because we have strong hitters and we can rely on each other.”
The versatility having a libero this year in Young has helped. The Indians didn’t have one last year. In addition, they have a couple of big hitters in Hunter Halbower and Jessica Decensi.
“A lot of difference is we are able to move our hitters around more,” co-captain Trinity Flynn said. “We have girls who are more athletic and we’ve been able to adjust to what other teams are giving us.”
Guilford had won its first 14 matches with ease, but the Indians ran into Branford last Friday night and were beaten in five games.
“The team was upset with the loss. Branford was a much improved team since we saw them last, and we have had a few less competitive games of recent, and got off to a very slow start,” Meyer said. “However, we have smart girls and they were telling each other that this will make them stronger and continue to work hard.”
The loss does take a target off Guilford’s back. No longer will opponents see a zero in the loss column on their record.
“There is a lot of pressure on an undefeated team,” Meyer said. “It would have obviously been great, but losing allows our girls to play a little more loose.”
Is 19-1 possible? Looking at the schedule of matches remaining, it is. Of the five remaining opponents on the docket, Guilford has already beaten four of them, giving up one set, that coming in the opening match of the season against East Lyme way back on Sept. 9. The Indians have only lost six sets all season.
“We saw our schedule and had Hand, Mercy, Branford and Sheehan early and we always have close games with them, so I was thinking we’d be okay,” Hyman said. “But now we deserve to be where we are.”
Unfortunately, there are a lot of times when volleyball conflicts with other sports, so the crowds haven’t been what they could be. They are getting larger, but there’s soccer and football played on the same nights.
“Football is a little later, so people come here first,” Hyman said.
As for the postseason, the most successful SCC season came in 2011 when the Indians lost to Cheshire 3-0 in the SCC championship match. Way back in 1993, long before any members of the current Indians were born, Guilford fell to Darien 3-0 in the CIAC Class M finals.
“I’m hoping we can hang with Cheshire and I think we can this year,” Meyer said. “We’re hoping we don’t peak too early.”