Cougars Were the Class of Their Conference This Fall
Senior Meghan Doxsee dished out 257 assists while helping the H-K girls’ volleyball squad win the Shoreline Conference title this year. Doxsee garnered All-Shoreline Conference First Team accolades on behalf of the Cougars. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Source | Buy This Photo)
Senior Addy Duquette (right) earned All-Shoreline Honorable Mention at the libero position for the Cougars during the 2020 fall season. Also pictured is junior Audrey Snyder. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Source | Buy This Photo)
Lola Chagnon punched up 75 digs as a sophomore for the H-K girls’ volleyball team this fall. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Source | Buy This Photo)
Senior Caitlyn Esposito (middle) finished her volleyball career at H-K by making the All-Shoreline Conference First Team. Also pictured for the Cougars are senior captain Meghan Doxsee (left) and sophomore Lola Chagnon (right). (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Source | Buy This Photo)
Junior Jess Timothy put forth a huge performance when the Cougars swept Hale-Ray to capture the Shoreline Conference crown. Pictured on the left is senior captain Addy Duquette. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Source | Buy This Photo)
The Haddam-Killingworth girls’ volleyball squad wasn’t able to compete on its home floor as the team played its way through the COVID-19 pandemic this fall. However, the Cougars were still able to put together a perfect season that saw them post a record of 13-0 and claim the Shoreline Conference title.
H-K would typically play its home matches at the Patsy Kamercia Field House, but with the facility undergoing renovations, the Cougars were constantly on the road throughout the regular season. Even with the odds stacked against them, the Cougars used a combination of solid all-around team play and strong senior leadership to piece together an undefeated campaign.
“I wish we were able to play all 20 games this season, but we loved every second of every game we were able to play in,” said Head Coach Robin Callender, who completed her fifth season with the team. “Things started off slow, but the girls really worked hard over the offseason to jell together. I think our last game of the season was the best we played all year, and it was great to end on a high note.”
That last match was the Shoreline Conference Tournament final, in which H-K faced Hale-Ray on Nov. 13. The Cougars posted a 3-0 sweep by the final tally of 25-16, 25-14, 25-12 to take the title. Junior outside hitter Jess Timothy had 14 digs with 14 kills, 10 service points, and six aces for H-K. Junior Audrey Snyder also turned in a strong performance by posting 10 kills, nine digs, 11 service points, and four aces.
There was a big difference between H-K’s regular-season matchup with Hale-Ray and their rematch in the Shoreline championship. The Cougars won the regular-season meeting by a 3-1 score, but still missed on 24 serves in the victory. In the Shoreline final, H-K only made six errors from the service line.
“It was a huge difference for us to be able to serve well the entire game,” Coach Callender said. “I couldn’t believe how accurate we were. Everything was clicking for us, and it was a great way for our seniors to go out.”
Timothy led the Cougars with 139 kills this year, accounting for more than one quarter of the team’s total kills on the season. Senior Caitlyn Esposito and Snyder combined for 66 of H-K’s 168 aces, while Esposito also recorded 24 of the team’s 33 blocked shots. Sophomore Lola Chagnon tallied the most digs with 75, and senior captain Meghan Doxsee recorded a team-high 257 assists.
Doxsee, Timothy, and Esposito all made the All-Shoreline Conference First Team for the Cougars. Snyder made the All-Shoreline Second Team, and senior captain Addy Duquette received All-Shoreline Honorable Mention. Doxsee was also named to All-State Class M Team on behalf of Coach Callender’s squad.
“Meghan was our setter, and she ran the offense for us these past two seasons. She started on varsity her sophomore year, but transitioned to setter her junior year, and has been great for us since then,” said Callender. “This year, Meghan really took control and always knew where to go with the ball. She was one of the most consistent players that I’ve had the opportunity to coach, and all the girls depended on her when we needed to score a point.”
Doxsee led H-K alongside fellow senior captains Lizzy Celano and Duquette this season. Coach Callender was pleased with how Celano and Duquette performed in the captain’s role.
“Lizzy was our defensive specialist, and she was one of the best teammates. Even when she wasn’t playing, Lizzy was always cheering on the team and keeping their spirits high,” said Callender. “Our other captain was Addy, and she was our libero. I flip-flopped her and Lola this season, because Lola will have to take over libero next year, and I wanted her to get experience. But Addy was a tremendous asset for our team, and all of our seniors will be missed next year.”
In addition to the captains, H-K’s roster also included seniors Esposito, Tessa Wills, and Ella McGlynn; juniors Snyder, Timothy, Megan Butler, and Carly Rettberg; and sophomores Chagnon, Kaleigh Bodak, Payton Yazmer, and Audra Yazmer.
Coach Callender said that all the athletes on her team are close with each other both on and off the court. The safety protocols made things difficult for the Cougars, because everyone always wanted to give high-fives to one another.
“At first, it took a while for the girls to get used to wearing masks. They always wanted to high-five,” said Callender. “These seniors especially, have been close since elementary school, so it was difficult for them to interact without touching. COVID played a huge factor in our season, but our girls didn’t flinch, and we got the job done.”
Despite some key graduations, H-K will still be returning a quality core of starters to its team for the 2021 season. Coach Callender’s expectations are for the Cougars to perform just as well as they did this year and potentially win a state championship, COVID permitting.
“I know that losing Meghan is going to be big. We are going to need to find someone to fill her role as the setter. We have a couple of players that we are looking to slip into her spot, and I’m hoping that they’re able to fill in well,” Callender said. “We are going to have to keep working hard. I’m very fortunate to have a solid core of players coming back. It’s promising, because we have a strong sophomore class. We have four sophomores that saw varsity time. I’m hoping that by the beginning of the season, we can really jell as a team and be just as successful.”