By John Torsiello
Granby Memorial High School volleyball coach Dave Sprowson says the moxie his team has displayed this season on the court has been a big reason for its success thus far.
“You can see the fight in these girls. We are a very well rounded team this year and they want to prove themselves. Last year we had a go-to hitter. This year anyone can put the ball away for us and they all want the ball all the time. It allows for our setter to run a more exciting offense.”
The Bears sported an 11-2 record going into a non-league match with Torrington on Tuesday. The squad began the campaign with five straight wins before losing back to back games to Avon (3-0) and Lyman Memorial (3-1). Granby then righted the ship and reeled off six wins in its next seven matches, the only blemish during that run being a 3-0 loss to Enfield on the road. Going into the game with Torrington, the Bears had won four straight matches by 3-0 scores.
Sprowson said this year’s success has come somewhat by surprise after the Bears graduated nine seniors from last year’s team.
“It was expected to be a rebuilding year. We have solid players but we graduated those nine seniors from last year.”
This year’s squad is made up of primarily juniors, with only one senior and two sophomores on the varsity, so the future looks bright for the Bears.
“On many occasions we have had an entire junior lineup on the court,” said Sprowson. “Four of the juniors saw significant playing time as sophomores.”
The Bears were 15-5 last year and lost in the state tournament quarterfinals. Sprowson has been with the program since it began as a club sport seven years ago. This is the Bears’ fifth season as a varsity sport.
Top players have been Kaylee Jerman (293 assists, 7.3 assists per set), Casey Hunt ( 155 digs, 2.6 kills per set), Cali Holt (33 blocks, 1.8 kills per set, and Colleen Longley (55 aces, 1.2 kills per set).
Sprowson said the team’s biggest win thus far was when it beat Coventry in the opening match of the season on the road, ending its opponent’s 79-match win streak.
The head coach looked ahead to the end of the regular season.
“We have a couple big teams in our conference, including both Coventry and Avon, both of whom always have strong programs. I think we could finish on top in the conference this year. But we’re not there yet and we will have to beat both to get the NCCC title.”