Guilford Volleyball Soaring on the Court
Senior captain Emma Appleman and the Guilford girls’ volleyball squad are 8-0 on the year and have won seven matches via sweep. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Senior Emily Brouder and the Guilford girls’ volleyball team claimed victories over Hand and Amity in last week’s matchups. Pictured on the left is senior captain Juliet Young. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Senior Olivia Ciocca and the Guilford girls’ volleyball squad need to get more four wins to go undefeated for the regular season this fall. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
The Guilford High School girls’ volleyball team is off to as strong of a start as it’s had in recent memory this season. Guilford is sporting a record of 8-0 on the year and has recorded seven of those victories in shutout fashion.
Head Coach Laura Anastasio attributes much of her club’s success to a wealth of returning talent, along with the ability of Guilford athletes to work together in their quest to secure victories. Last week, Guilford earned a 3-0 (25-6, 25-9, 25-20) victory at Hand on Oct. 19 and then posted a 3-1 (25-20, 23-25, 25-10, 27-25) home win versus Amity on Oct. 22.
“The past few seasons, we’ve worked really well together, and I think that’s a huge reason why we have been so successful this year,” Coach Anastasio said. “Even though there’s not a ton on the line at the moment, they want to play strong and hard for each other.”
Senior captains Emma Appleman and Juliet Young are leading the charge for Guilford on the court this fall. This year, both athletes achieved feats that have been accomplished by only a few players in Guilford volleyball history. Appleman, an outside hitter, notched the 1,000th kill of her volleyball career, while Young, who plays libero, posted her 1,000th career dig.
Appleman leads Guilford in kills with 121 on the season, while averaging a team-high five kills per set. Young leads the team in both digs (93) and aces (29). Senior setter Olivia Ciocca has a team-high 156 assists for Coach Anastasio’s squad.
Anastasio was pleased to see her surging team get a big win against a tough Amity club last week.
“We returned a lot of our strong starters from last season, and there is a really relaxed feel to the team,” said Anastasio. “We were really excited to be able to play Amity this year, because they are historically always very competitive, and they gave us a very good challenge in our most recent game.”
Appleman recorded 14 kills for Guilford in the match versus Hand, while Young led the team in digs with 11. Sophomore Halle Krause handed out 18 assists in the win. Against Amity, Appleman had 29 kills and 17 digs, while Young posted 29 digs with two aces.
Guilford’s varsity roster also includes seniors Emily Brouder, Carson Halbower, Zoe McClure, and Megan McNamara; juniors Talia Turcio, Daisy Pope, and Katie Vail; sophomores Emily Lin, Gabby Paris, and Corrine Puchalski; and freshmen Emma Getrost and Emmi Piironen.
Guilford came into the campaign on the heels of a season that saw the team win the Southern Connecticut Conference title and make it to the Class L state final. This year, the SCC is planning to hold a fall tournament experience during November. Coach Anastasio believes that the 2020 edition of her team is a championship-caliber squad.
“A little bit of luck goes into winning a state title, but we definitely had the potential to get it done with how well we’ve been playing and how hard these girls are working for each other,” Anastasio said.
The protocols for playing volleyball have been stringent due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Guilford has made all of the necessary adjustments. Every athlete is required to wear a mask during the entirety of a match, unless that player is stopping for a water break. All of the players who are not in the match must maintain a social distance of at least six feet between one another.
“It’s been different, but we are really thankful that we had the opportunity to play at all this year,” said Coach Anastasio. “We didn’t know if we were going to be able to play at all, so we are happy that we have some sort of a season.”
Guilford will close out its regular season with road matches against Hamden and West Haven, followed by home matches versus East Haven and Branford. Regardless of how the playoffs ultimately pan out, Coach Anastasio is expecting Guilford to put together a strong finish to its season.
“We’d love to finish the season with all wins,” Anastasio said. “This is a great group of girls, and I am really proud of how much they have accomplished, despite all of this craziness with the pandemic.”