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Junior setter Hannah Auddino dished out 223 assists on her way to making the All-SCC Division B Team in her first year as a varsity starter for the North Haven girls’ volleyball squad. (Photo courtesy of Hannah Auddino )
Hannah Auddino started asking her mom if she could play a sport when she was just four years old. In the 7th grade, Hannah got her wish and started playing volleyball—a sport that she continues to play to this day in North Haven.
Hannah, a junior, has competed for the North Haven girls’ volleyball squad for the past three years. This year, Hannah solidified a spot on the All-Southern Connecticut Conference Division B Team for her performance at the setter position, while helping North Haven advance to the championship match of the SCC Division B Tournament.
Hannah first stepped on the volleyball court with the CT Juniors team based out of Woodbridge as a 7th-grader. She played for the team for two years before joining the volleyball squad at the high school. In that first season with the Juniors, Hannah learned how much trust and teamwork it takes to be successful in the sport.
“It’s such a different type of feel. I haven’t played any other sports, but my friends on the softball team told me that volleyball is such a connected sport,” Hannah says. “You really have to depend on each other. There’s a lot of trust involved.”
Hannah competed for North Haven’s JV team during her freshman year. As she continued building her skills on the court, Hannah also started bonding with her teammates and knew that she was going to be part of the program for the long haul.
“It was welcoming. I made a lot of friends. I hadn’t played any other sports, so it was all new to me, the team mentality,” says Hannah. “The biggest part of my freshman season was making connections. A lot of my friends today are from volleyball.”
Hannah continued playing JV in her sophomore season, but also started dressing for the varsity matches, too. In the subsequent offseason, Hannah spent a lot of time working on her skills as a setter, so she could make smart and quick decisions when her time came to play on the varsity stage for Head Coach Brianna Kleckner’s team.
As a junior, Hannah became the starting setter for North Haven’s varsity squad. She finished the recent season with a team-leading 223 assists and a team-best 31 aces. After North Haven advanced to the SCC Division B final, Hannah was selected to the conference’s Division B Team alongside senior captain Alex Ferriouolo and fellow junior Caroline Toni.
Looking back at her first year as a varsity starter, Hannah says the experience showed her that she has the potential to excel on the court for a North Haven club that is trending upward.
“It’s definitely a big shift. In my position, there is a lot of weight put on you. You’re running the offense. You’re deciding who gets the hit. You just realize that position is so important,” Hannah says. “Me, Caroline, and Alex all worked incredibly hard. Before Coach Kleckner, North Haven was thought to be an easy win. Once Coach Kleckner came, she changed the outlook of the program, and we made the finals this year.”
Although Hannah has only played varsity for one year, Coach Kleckner was happy to see the junior step right in and handle the setter’s role with aplomb. Kleckner describes Hannah as a hardworking volleyball player who has shown continual growth throughout her first three seasons with the program.
“Hannah is an amazing athlete and person. She really wants to do well. Hannah filled in as our varsity setter without missing a beat. There’s a lot of pressure that goes into that position, and Hannah handled that pressure tremendously,” says Kleckner. “Hannah puts a lot of time in during the offseason, which helps tremendously. As essentially our quarterback, she really stepped up. No matter how hard the challenge was, she raised the bar.”
Hannah gained an even better understanding about the importance of trust on the volleyball court during her first season with the varsity team. Hannah is hoping that the trust among North Haven’s players will lead the club to a postseason title in 2021.
“Volleyball is all about trust. People I wouldn’t normally be friends with, I’m friends with, because you have to put so much trust into your teammates,” Hannah says. “If the ball is coming between you and they call it, you have to trust that they will get it. Because of that, you make so many good friends from volleyball.”
After clamoring to play sports as a youngster, Hannah got her opportunity and ran with it. Now, Hannah loves playing volleyball for North Haven, especially since it’s a sport where everyone needs to be on the same page in order for a team to succeed.
“Volleyball isn’t like any other sport. You can’t score a point without everyone being there,” says Hannah. “Sure, you could just pass it over, but it’s not going to be as effective as Alex passing to me, me setting, and Caroline hitting. The trust in this sport is something I never really experienced in any other setting.”