Headed for
the state
The undefeated string for the Woodstock Academy volleyball team continued last week.
The Centaurs have now won 10 in a row to start this season and 30 of their last 31 matches, dating back to last season, after taking the measure of Coventry, Killingly and Bacon Academy last week.
The Centaurs reached double digits in wins with a 3-0 shutout of Bacon Academy Sept. 28 at the Alumni Fieldhouse.
The Centaurs followed a familiar pattern.
They won the first two sets handily 25-8 and 25-7, substituted often in the third, and pulled out the 25-20 win to complete the victory.
Sammie Orlowski had 19 assists while Emma Green added 10 sets in the win.
Paula Hernandez was the beneficiary of many of those sets, she led the Centaurs with 12 kills. Sophomore Gabby Garbutt added five more.
Senior Libero Maddy Gronski played well in the back row again with 21 digs.
Prior to the match with Killingly last Wednesday, outside hitter Natalie Low was honored for the week she had prior as the senior was named the Connecticut MaxPreps Volleyball Player of the Week.
“That was pretty cool,” said Woodstock Academy volleyball coach Adam Bottone.
Low had 44 kills and 42 digs in the three games the Centaurs had played against Newtown, Norwich Free Academy and Fitch.
“She’s been doing some good things lately and has been working hard. She is still having a little trouble keeping the consistency with the hitting, but she comes out strong every game and we work on the adjustments she has to make,” Bottone said. “She’s been plugging along. It was a well-deserved award.”
Some of those adjustments were in evidence in the match against Coventry last Tuesday at the Alumni Fieldhouse.
The Centaurs downed the Patriots, 3-0.
The win qualified the Centaurs for the Class L state tournament.
“I love my team this year,” Low said. “We’re really super close and that adds a lot to it.”
The Centaurs beat the Patriots (5-2) for a first time last season.
Woodstock Academy was dominant Sept. 25, scoring wins of 25-16, 25-12 and 25-19.
“We’ve made a lot of progress and it has a lot to do with coach. The way he is running practices this year is different which I really like,” Low said.
Bottone credited the improvement, meanwhile, to a player.
Hernandez made her debut last season as a sophomore against the Patriots and powered the Centaurs to a 3-0 victory.
“She makes everybody else better. It’s not just her out there on the court. The defense is making phenomenal digs. We’re starting to get our middles working more and Natalie is getting more effective and consistent,” Bottone said.
Against Coventry, Low finished with 12 kills.
But those points came in a variety of ways.
Early on, Low used her power game and got seven of those kills in the first set.
But she adjusted her outside game as the match went along, choosing to slip the ball over the block or into space rather than try to overpower the Patriot defense.
“I was struggling a little bit with the harder swings. They were going out a lot, so I wanted to switch it up a little bit,” Low said.
Hernandez was Hernandez.
“It’s so amazing playing with her,” Low said. “She’s super sweet about it. She’s never cocky and acts like everybody else and is really supportive of everyone.”
She was dominant early, getting the first 10 service points in the first set to put the Centaurs in the right frame of mind early.
She finished with 18 kills, 18 digs, 23 service points and six aces.
“She’s our best server statistically with points in and aces. I like to mix my lineup as to where I have people start serving because I figure most will try and match up with Paula in the front, maybe she is in the back row to begin with and mess up (the opponents) a little bit. I’ve talked to her about the power of her serve. She has a consistent serve that works really well which is what we want but if we can add a little extra power to it, that’s going to give teams fits and it clearly did that (Tuesday) against an extremely good team,” Bottone said.
Ostrowski was again steady at setter with 28 assists while Gronski was a rock in the back with 14 digs.
Katie Papp had three blocks and her first three aces of the season in the win.
While the Centaurs were tested a bit by Coventry, they had a much easier time with the Redgals.
Killingly (1-7) is in a bit of a rebuilding cycle after losing some of their top players including Ally Conde.
Bottone was especially happy with the team’s service game as it put together numerous strings.
“Bekah Wesler had some really nice strings that helped us out. Our middles, Katie Papp, Amelia Large and Sierra Bedard, are starting to get a lot more touches on the ball and they’re starting to make a difference. I’m happy to see that progressing,” Bottone said.
The Centaurs were able to sub liberally as they won the three games, 25-9, 25-10 and 25-21.
“It’s going to be a completely different team next year. We lose most of our players that are our significant contributors right now. Being able to get them in, even if we struggle a little and I have to put the starters back in, is the nature of the beast. They learn from it and get the reps and it gives me ideas as to what we need to work on,” Bottone said.
As a result, the individual totals were not big for the Centaurs.
Hernandez had 10 kills while Low added seven and eight service points. Orlowski (12) and Green combined for 20 assists and Gronski accumulated 20 digs.
Marc Allard
Sports Information Director
The Woodstock Academy


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