Volleyball

Preview: Greenwich’s Experience Provides Edge In Balanced League

Ali Castro returns to quarterback Trumbull. (David Whitham)

In a poll of league coaches, the near consensus was that in a non-pandemic season, Greenwich, New Canaan and Trumbull would be the top three teams, with a pack of five others capable of emerging as contenders.

Now we have a 10-match season with three pods. Greenwich, New Canaan, Westhill and Darien are all grouped together in a super-pod, while the other favorites are packed together in another pod.

While we won’t get a traditional season, all three pod winners will come away with a sense of accomplishment.

I Coulda Been A Contender

1. Greenwich: After tying for the regular season title, the Cardinals failed to reach the final of either postseason tournament. They won’t get the chance this fall with the most dominant returning lineup, led by the overpowering Lilly Saleeby. She finished with 326 kills and will be complemented by Cornelia Roach and Adele Sotgiu. Addie Leder and Lucia Spanjol are the setters, with Chelsea Cleary a strong libero.

2. New Canaan: The Rams have never won a league title and last reached the final in 2002. They will have to settle this year with the chance to go head to head with the Cardinals, Westhill and Darien in a strong pod. This will be one of their best teams, with the 1-2 combo of setter Elle Sneddon (517 assists, 207 digs) and hitter Alex Gillespie (126 kills, 283 digs). Annie Gravereaux (340 digs) is outstanding defensively, while Lillie Gray (146 kills) is a threat at net.

3. Trumbull: What follows winning your first state title? The Eagles will navigate a balanced pod led by setter Ali Castro (56 aces, 745 assists, 209 digs) and outside hitter Bailey Cenatiempo (56 aces, 745 assists, 209 digs). Kat Zanvettor is back at libero, while Steph Olah will take on a bigger role at net.

The Pack: There is a large group of teams capable of a traditional-year top-five finish, including defending league and state runner-up Westhill, reigning FCIAC champion Fairfield Ludlowe, Fairfield Warde, Darien and St. Joseph. The Vikings have a strong setter in Vana Servos, the Falcons expect Jane Ransome to have a breakout season at net, the Mustangs return outside hitter Clare Edminster and three other starters, the Blue Wave will be led by outside hitter Aerin Bowman and the Cadets return their entire lineup, including outside hitter Jenna Koonitsky.

Pods

West: Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan, Stamford, Westhill, Wright Tech. Predicted Winner: Greenwich.

Central: Danbury, Brien McMahon, Norwalk, Ridgefield, Staples, Wilton. Predicted Winner: Ridgefield.

East: Bridgeport Central, Fairfield Ludlowe, Fairfield Warde, St. Joseph, Trumbull. Predicted Winner: Trumbull.

Westhill’s Vana Servos (11) is one of the state’s top setters. (Mark Conrad)

15 Players To Watch

  • Valeria Barbaglio, Westhill
  • Aerin Bowman, Darien
  • Ali Castro, Trumbull
  • Bailey Cenatiempo, Trumbull
  • Clare Edminster, Fairfield Warde
  • Alex Gillespie, New Canaan
  • Jenna Koonitsky, St. Joseph
  • Camille Legnani, Brien McMahon
  • Catherine Maguire, Ridgefield
  • Jane Ransome, Fairfield Ludlowe
  • Cornelia Roach, Greenwich
  • Lilly Saleeby, Greenwich
  • Vana Servos, Westhill
  • Elle Sneddon, New Canaan
  • Adele Sotgiu, Greenwich

Lineups

Danbury: OH/S Ryan Hicks, Isabella Roberts, OH Kathleen Cummings.

Darien: H/S Ellie Moore, S/OPP Aubrey Moore, DS Ayla Schenck, MH Leilani Gillespie, OH/OPP/MH Jillian Roche, MH Jillian Vaught, DS Katie Faye Davenport, OH Aerin Bowman, LIB Juju Han, S Madchen Carrier, MH/OPP Cavan Duffy, S Rachel Herget.

Fairfield Ludlowe: Allie Clark, Jane Ransome, Gabby Price, Tatum Holderied, Caitlin Finnegan, Natalie Reilly.

Fairfield Warde: OH Clare Edminster, MH Mia Rembish, MH Stewart Galliard, OH Riley Parker, DS/OPP Abby McMichael, S Anya Stanton.

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Greenwich: Lillian Saleeby, Adele Sotgiu, Cornelia Roach, Chelsea Cleary, Addie Leder, Lucia Spanjol.

Brien McMahon: S/DS Emily Bouloukmpasi, OH MaryAlice Smith, DS Meghan Sisk, OH Lucy Grillo, L Camille Legnani, MH Justine Zerrusen.

New Canaan: S Elle Sneddon, OH Alex Gillespie, MB Lillie Gray, OH Lindsay Mulcahy, OH Lily Stevens, MB Sara Lockyer, L Annie Gravereaux, S Katerina Roth, OH Christina Sinatra, OH Stella Turner.

Norwalk: Isabella Arvantis, Jordan Brown, Nicole DiLauro, Sofia Imbrogno, Amelia Iosifides, Maria Luque, Georgia Mendola, Brinn Renwick, China Tinnen, Emily Whelan, Devon Wilkins, Chloe Zurkowski.

Ridgefield: MH Catherine Maguire, OH Norah McNeece, S Isabel Voellmicke, OH Katie Flynn and OH Sarah Gagliardi, D Ally Bell, D Kate Bucci, D Kara MacDonald, OH Cali Stieztel, OH Siovhan Moroney, S Sydney Katz, MH Kate Garson, MH Lily Walsh, Nubia Zamudio, Katie Brand.

St. Joseph: L Brittany Mairano, OH Jenna Koonitsky, MH Ava Tuccio, MH Lily Mattison, OH Katie Spangenberg, RS Morgan Jose.

Stamford: L Kady Green, S Sarah Wargo, OH Kim Saunders, MH, Jordan Rossi, MH Sam Rossi, MH Shaina Bond, OH Annalise Fabricatore, DS Gabby Argenio.

Staples: Annabelle Iannone, Linnea Jagenberg, Ally Schwartz, Elle Videler, Nicole D’Erario, Lucie Nivaud, Elle Laub.

Trumbull: S Ali Castro, OH Bailey Cenatiempo, L Kat Zanvettor, OH Steph Olah, Amanda Sullivan, Callan Vaughn, Jess Nyitrai. 

Westhill: S Vana Servos, L Maddy Bautista, OH Joshelyn Garcia, Valeria Barbaglio, DS Liana Bilottti,

Wilton: Kylie Bell, Carly Morris, Kathleen Condos, Julia Swierczynska, Kendall Scholz, Gillian Lipsky, Ruth Briglin.

(Teams missing did not reply to repeated requests for information)