RHAM volleyball after winning a state championship at East Haven High School on Nov. 19. It was the program’s second straight title and ninth championship since 2007.
For a second straight season, the girls’ volleyball team at RHAM High School won a state championship.
The Raptors tore through the Class M tournament, defeating four teams in straight sets, before capturing yet another championship with a victory over Woodland at East Haven High School on Nov. 19.
Senior captains Ally Hadley, Lauren Feige, and Sarah West led a veteran team that was coming off a Class L title the previous season.
“We had the same mentality. We wanted that feeling of winning states again because it was such a great feeling for us,” Hadley said of the team’s mindset heading into fall.
Once the matches started, it was business as usual for the Raptors, who won 17 matches in the regular season and added three more wins in the Central Connecticut Conference (CCC) tourney.
Feige, the team’s setter, said the experience the group gained a year ago paid dividends this fall, allowing the team to hit the ground running in their quest to repeat.
“A lot of us had been practicing throughout the summer and last year we played together,” added Feige, who served up a team-high 501 assists this fall. “We already had our lineup for this year, so it was perfect for us because we had already been so comfortable with each other.”
West said it was the comradery of the team—combined with the help of some special accessories—-that made the team unstoppable.
“I have to play with the same hair tie every single game. I ended up losing it halfway through the season, but then I found it so I used both of them,” joked West, whose magic hair ties allowed her to lead the team with 70 blocks this fall.
Whether it was superstition or super talent, the Raptors were simply dominant in the state tourney.
After eliminating Wolcott, Northwestern, and Seymour in the first three rounds, RHAM breezed by Woodland in the title match (25-13, 25-20, 20-21).
It marked the program’s ninth title since 2007.
All of the captains credited head coach Tim Guernsey for creating an environment that is both welcoming and challenging.
“He pushes us every day. He just wants the best for us and he knows if we are slacking off and he’ll push those buttons to get us to give our all,” Hadley said of Guernsey, who picked up his 400th career win following a victory over South Windsor on Oct. 3.
West added, “It’s about the legacy. Every girl buys into it completely and nobody wants to be the team that stops winning.”
The prolonged success can also be attributed to the dedication of the player.
Most mornings the team is practicing at 5 a.m. The captains said the early hours can be rough, but added that the proof is in the pudding.
“Every morning we’re tired going in, but we’re doing it with the people that we loved,” said Feige. “The whole team is a family. It’s so nice winning it with them.”
So which championship is better?
Well, according to the captains, both.
“It’s just a different feeling,” said West, who added that the first one was about the team proving themselves and the second one was more about leaving a legacy at RHAM.
Hadley, who was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, and will play volleyball collegiately at Maine Maritime Academy, said it’s sad to be moving on from a program that has meant so much to her.
“I’ll miss it; it’s a great environment,” stated Hadley, who led the team with 59 aces.
Feige added, “It’s what I’ve known during these months every single year. It’s a melancholy feeling because you want to keep doing it.”
The three captains, along with fellow seniors Summer Acabchuk and Caelyn Calhoun will be moving on.
Heading a potential “three-peat” charge next year will be Lani Fecho, who led the team in kills as a junior this fall, along with Nina Jobes, Neve Tyler, and Ali Polchanin.
Leave a Reply.
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin