Game by game, point by point, practice by practice, the Chester High School girl’s volleyball program was looking for ways to improve on the court this season.
“We are the fastest-growing athletic program in the district,’’ said Chester head coach Michael Doucette. “The community has really taken notice, and we hope to continue growing. The program would like to thank everyone for their support and look forward to working our way to a Section title in the not-too-distant future. This is a very exciting time for this program.’’
Last month, the Hambletonians truly proved their worth.
“We had a few games in October that showed how far we had come since the start of the season,’’ Doucette said. “We had gone five sets with Seward and Sullivan West earlier in the season. I have tried to sell my girls on using practice as a time to make adjustments and game plan. They trust me, but I asked them to do some things that were against some of our season long game plans. They were understandably hesitant.
“They took a leap of faith and adjusted their game. We went into the second game with each team with a game plan and swept both teams and qualified for the playoffs. The team executed our plan so well. It was a pleasure to see the team work so well together.’’
Leaders grow into the job
Leadership was outstanding for the Hambletonians this fall.
“Aaliyah Jackson (senior/middle position) turned herself into a team leader by being a constant supporter of her teammates,’’ Doucette said. “She wore her heart on her sleeve and showed each girl how much she cared. She also elevated her game to become one of the better hitters on the floor.
"Trinity Delgado (freshman/middle) is just learning the game. She is tall and athletic. When we started the season, she was still trying to figure out where to go and how to hit and block. By the end of the season she was a blocking force in the middle. She was the best defensive presence at the net and quickly learned to shut down opposing hitters. She has a bright future ahead of her.
“Isabella Steinberg (senior/outside hItter) made the transition from middle to outside, and it was a seamless transition. She led the team in kills and was one of our better back row defenders. Her steady presence was a calming factor and helped focus the team when things would start to get away from us.’’
Chester finished the season with six victories. Next year could very well show further progress for the Hambletonians.
“We have a young core coming back, and this season was the second year of having a team at three levels -- modified, JV, varsity,’’ Doucette said. “We have the first group of players who played since the seventh grade coming up to JV in the fall.
“We are now a full program and continue to grow with huge numbers of girls coming out for the team. We have several girls playing travel and local leagues. The future is very bright for a team that already made the playoffs two of the first five years of the programs’ existence. Those playoff appearances were actually second of the last three years."
“We are now a full program and continue to grow with huge numbers of girls coming out for the team.The future is very bright for a team that already made the playoffs two of the first five years of the programs’ existence." -- Head Coach Michael Doucette