TORRINGTON — After opening the season with a tough loss at Holy Cross last Friday, Torrington’s girls volleyball team came home to an easy 3-0 (25-9; 25-11; 25-6) win over Wilby Tuesday evening.
The key against the Wildcats was a rock-solid Red Raider serving game in which Nicole Toimil, Mariah Doyle and Alexa Reynolds, among others, racked up long service stints at the line, including multiple aces against an inexperienced Wilby team.
“I don’t look at the score; I just try to focus on my mechanics,” said Toimil, a junior who led the team with nine aces while also performing flawlessly as a first-year setter (8 assists).
“We still have a lot of work to do,” Wilby coach Cazzie Iverson said. “We have a lot of returners, but most of them just started volleyball last year.”
First-year Torrington coach Cassandra Drogan knows the feeling.
After several glorious Raider volleyball years under coach Christine Gamari, including last year’s 18-2, and 2016’s 19-1 with a Class M finals appearance, Torrington is most definitely rebuilding from the coach on down while Gamari takes time off to tend to her growing family.
Drogan was recruited from New York as a high school setter/turned libero at Post University, then cut her college career short to become a Waterbury police officer.
“I think the girls can relate to me because I’m not that much older than they are,” said Drogan, who inherited a team returning just two varsity players — Kaitlyn Luba and Reynolds — after last year’s graduating seniors romped through most of the NVL, including a 3-0 regular-season shutout over eventual league champion Seymour.
Sam Zordan and Sarah Bardwell are back as assistant coaches from some of those glory years, but the new varsity players, most of whom played extensively on last year’s JV team, “needed to prove themselves,” Drogan said.
Toimil, who sat on last year’s varsity bench without seeing much action, is one who’s made her mark with the new coach already.
“I originally wanted her in the middle (as one of the team’s taller girls). Then I noticed her hands, so I made her my setter,” Drogan said.
In just her second game in that position, Toimil played like a veteran.
On a team with no captains yet while Drogan gets better acquainted with her team, Toimil, Luba and Reynolds will be called on to play that veteran role consistently through a challenging season for both the new team and its new coaches.
Good communications on the court is a key first step, Drogan said.
TORRINGTON 3, WILBY 0
WILBY 9 11 6—0
TORRINGTON 25 25 25—3
Records: Wilby 0-1; Torrington 1-1. Highlights: W—Jonaria Garcia 2 aces, 1 assist, 1 dig, 3 service points; Jessica Monegro 2 digs. T—Nicole Toimil 8 assists, 9 aces; Alexis Baranauskas 3 kills.