It is a challenge for a team to overcome losing a senior starter to injury. A captain, even worse. Both captains … and for likely a couple of weeks? Not good news for Newtown High School’s girls’ volleyball team, but the Nighthawks rebounded from what they hope is a short-term loss of senior captains Erin Burns and Zoe Beals and got a late-match spark from a pair of junior varsity call-ups in a 3-0 (25-15, 25-13, 25-14) win over visiting New Fairfield on October 2.
Some of the regulars/bench players stepped up to lead the Nighthawks to the verge of victory, and Annabel Terry and Genevieve Murray — in their first plays at the varsity level — contributed and helped close out the win.
Terry made her first varsity serve a memorable one with an ace, and Murray had three blocks and two kills, compiling four points, including the last four of the match, setting off an enthusiastic celebration on the pleasantly surprised Nighthawk bench.
“It was a great experience for the younger girls and for the older girls too, to see there is some up-and-coming talent,” Newtown Coach Tom Czaplinski said.
Hannah Groonell, who got on the court for just one play in a three-game loss at Woodstock Academy on September 29, saw some more varsity playing time in the win over the Rebels. All three of these players are sophomores, and they impressed their coach and the upperclassmen.
“None of them seemed nervous. They were all ready to play,” said Newtown setter Kim Buttery, a junior and first-year starter.
Burns has been out of the lineup and Beals finally sidelined after battling through injury. Czaplinski is hopeful to have his captains back in the fold and contributing at a high level before the truncated regular season segues into the postseason.
“It’s a little frustrating. They are obviously captains for a reason. They are leaders of the team, but hopefully they can continue to being leadership from the bench,” Czaplinski said.
Newtown’s coach was pleased with his team’s performance against the Rebels, noting that ball control and communication were solid.
“We did a lot of the little things,” Czaplinski said.
“We had a lot of energy and we had a lot of fun together and worked well together, and that allowed us to do the things we needed to do,” Buttery added.
Buttery compiled 34 assists to go along with five digs and three aces; Mollie Goudy had five aces and six digs; Erin Mitchell logged six kills, two aces, and a pair of digs; Tess Mubarek registered eight digs; Rachel O’Grady compiled 11 digs and five kills; Sarah Dowling and Julia Anderson each had seven kills; and Natalie Horn, a sophomore who has had significant playing time this fall, tallied six kills.