If the Trumbull girls volleyball team ends up winning the FCIAC title and defending its Class LL state championship, it will recall the road beginning on a hot summer morning, on the school’s soccer turf, with no equipment, face coverings and players distanced from one another.
“It was really cool to get back together and see everyone because is has been a few months,” said Stephanie Olah, one of the Eagles’ returning seniors. “We had planned on spending the spring together and doing workouts. A majority of us play in the offseason with different clubs but it was nice to get everyone back together in family fashion. Because of the pandemic we did it smart and in groups but you have to wear the masks and stand six feet apart. So we were together but not in the same sense as usual.”
Welcome to preseason 2020, which because of the coronavirus pandemic is unlike any previously experienced. The CIAC has allowed teams this month to hold conditioning workouts while adhering to the set guidelines.
The Eagles held their first one this morning.
“The girls are so excited,” said Nicole Trommelen, the team’s coach. “Even from the end of last year they were asking ‘What can we do.’ They were ready to go again. They are super anxious to get everything started. We’ve been really big on we may not like the rules but just follow them because we will do anything to get our season under way. The girls are excited to play again and with the thrill of how the last season ended, the girls are excited to hopefully compete again for the taste of that.”
Last season was one of the most competitive in recent FCIAC history. The Eagles finished the regular season tied for third place with a 15-3 record. After losing to Westhill in the league semifinals, they rebounded and did not drop a set in the state playoffs, defeating the Vikings in the final.
Trumbull graduated six seniors but comes back with a strong lineup that includes setter Ali Castro, front row threat Bailey Cenatiempo, Kathryn Zanvettor and Olah. The four are the team’s captains.
“It was cool today because it has been so long,” Castro said. “It was great seeing all my friends and the incoming freshmen. We usually have an orientation for sports but we didn’t have that this year so we didn’t get to meet them. It is just cool being a team once again.”
The Eagles will meet three times a week for the rest of the month. Today’s one-hour session included different station work, which included drills for change of direction, agility and to strengthen the abdominal area. Of course there was also running.
There were 56 players, a testament to the position the team now finds itself in. Trommelen, an assistant, was hired as the head coach two years ago at the age of 25. She led the Eagles to their first FCIAC title that season, then added the state crown last year.
“It definitely has been a whirlwind of a couple of years and it has definitely brought a lot of excitement to the program itself,” Trommelen said. “We’ve seen a huge increase the last couple of years of girls trying out. That’s super exciting. People want to be part of the program and that’s a good sign for a program that wants to stay super competitive.”
The players agreed the recent success has not left them complacent. Quite the opposite.
“We are so excited,” Olah said. “We are very determined. It is always so exhilarating but we hope that we have a season. As much as we want to win and are hungry to win we are also on the other hand hoping we can play and experience the championship games.”
The status of fall sports remains the one unknown. It is expected a decision by the CIAC will come by the start of next month. Volleyball has less contact than many other sports, but it is one of the few played indoors at a time when scientists say being outdoors lowers the risk of contracting the virus. Moving the sport to the spring — when the boys volleyball season is held — could cause conflicts for some players that are also on the lacrosse team.
“As a senior, we are worried about it and not being able to play, like the spring sports,” Olah said. “We want to play and hopefully if all goes well we are totally OK with following the rules as long as we get to play on the court.”