North Haven Advances to Division Final, Takes Loss to Cheshire
Senior captain Alex Ferriouolo and the North Haven girls’ volleyball squad claimed two victories in the SCC Division B Tournament to advance to a championship showdown against Cheshire on Nov. 13. North Haven took a 3-0 defeat against Cheshire to finish the season at 6-6 overall this year. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Junior Hannah Auddino (right) was handing out assists all over the place to help North Haven reach the SCC Division B Tournament final. Pictured on the left is fellow junior Megan Cross. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Junior Caroline Toni had eight kills with six digs and a pair of aces when the North Haven girls’ volleyball team claimed a 3-0 win over Lyman Hall in the SCC Division B semifinals on Nov. 11. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
The North Haven girls’ volleyball team won its first two matches of the Southern Connecticut Conference Division B Tournament to advance to a showdown against Cheshire in the championship. Although North Haven took a 3-0 loss to the Rams in its divisional final, Head Coach Brianna Kleckner feels proud about how her squad defied the odds to make history in 2020.
North Haven was the No. 3 seed in the SCC Division B Tournament and started off the draw with a 3-1 home victory versus No. 6 Sacred Heart Academy in a first-round matchup on Nov. 9. Two days later, North Haven played at No. 2 seed Lyman Hall in the semifinals and swept the match by a 3-0 (25-22, 25-22, 25-21) score.
That victory sent North Haven to the SCC Division B final, where Coach Kleckner’s club took on top-seeded Cheshire at Cheshire High School. North Haven dropped a 3-0 (25-11, 25-18, 25-12) decision against the Rams to finish the year with an overall record of 6-6.
Despite the defeat, Coach Kleckner was impressed with how North Haven played during the tournament on its way to making an SCC final for the first time in team history. North Haven’s achievements were especially impressive considering that the team had minimal preparation time for the playoffs after sports at the high school were on pause for a week following a positive COVID-19 case in the building. North Haven only had one full team practice in the days leading up to the tourney.
“Our focus was really about trying to ignore the pressure of the tournament. One of the hardest things for us was that most of our team was in quarantine for a good stretch of time, and we didn’t have a lot of time to prepare for the tournament,” Coach Kleckner said. “We had everything working against us. If we didn’t show up and perform, we were done, but our kids refused to accept that as an option. Our biggest driving force this season was that we all wanted to be together.”
North Haven certainly performed well in its SCC opener by claiming a 3-1 (25-19, 25-15, 24-26, 25-17) win over Sacred Heart Academy in a first-round contest. Junior Hannah Auddino had a huge match for North Haven by handing out 35 assists to go with six digs and four aces in the win. Junior Eveani Okwuosa had 13 kills and two aces, while fellow junior Caroline Toni recorded nine kills, seven digs, and two aces.
“We struggled to take control in the beginning and had some slow-rolling hills as we were trying to establish that it would be our match,” said Kleckner. “Once we recognized and celebrated the things that we were successful at, it was kind of smooth sailing from there.”
Two of North Haven’s players were sidelined when the team faced Lyman Hall in the semifinal round, but Coach Kleckner’s club was still able to pull off the upset by notching a 3-0 (25-22, 25-22, 25-21) win in the match. Senior Alex Ferriouolo posted 20 digs to go with two kills and three aces in the victory. Toni contributed with eight digs, six kills, and two aces to help North Haven advance to the championship.
“We knew that we would be at a disadvantage without two of our primary offensive options, but in the big picture for us, we were excited to play them. We were focused on staying together for as long as possible, and all the other players really stepped up,” Kleckner said. “We knew that we would have to change our approach and become a more outside-heavy team. Our goal was to make Lyman Hall struggle, and we did an excellent job of that, and that is why we were able to sweep the match.”
Unfortunately, North Haven’s run came to an end with a 3-0 (25-11, 25-18, 25-12) loss versus Cheshire in the title match of the SCC Division B Tournament. Ferriouolo had 15 digs with three kills, and sophomore Maria Lockery posted five digs to go with four kills for North Haven, which was also shorthanded in this contest.
“Cheshire is a very consistent team, and we have a lot of respect for their program,” Kleckner said. “The biggest issue for us was that we struggled offensively. Not having those kids in there was a major missing piece of the puzzle, and Cheshire took advantage of that.”
Coach Kleckner said that her athletes were devastated by the fact that the division final marked the last time they would take the court this year. However, Kleckner wants all of North Haven’s players to appreciate what they accomplished after overcoming adversity and many uncertainties on their way to a landmark campaign. Kleckner said that the 2020 edition of the North Haven girls’ volleyball team will always hold a special place in her heart.
“I absolutely love this team and the kids that we have. They showed up every single day and never took a moment for granted,” said Kleckner. “I genuinely could not be more proud of these kids, and I will forever be proud of each and every one of them. This group is very special. They are responsible for giving our program a name. They put North Haven volleyball on the map.”
North Haven’s varsity roster includes senior captain libero Alex Ferriouolo, senior defensive specialist Sophia DelVecchio, junior setter Hannah Auddino, junior outside hitter Caroline Toni, junior middle blocker Eveani Okwuosa, junior right side hitter Megan Cross, junior defensive specialist Lexy Signore, sophomore outside hitter Maria Lockery, sophomore middle blocker Emma Liedke, sophomore right side hitter Kayla Balisciano, sophomore right side hitter Maren Hill, and sophomore middle blocker Sophie Vauiso.
Coach Kleckner finished her fifth season as North Haven’s head coach and was assisted by JV coach Bianca Steele and volunteer coach Kristen Bataille.