Top of the Hill
Westies end season with shutout win over Academics
By MIKE MADERA
Westie Blue
WEST HAVEN (October 26, 2011) –
 In a season which saw too many missed opportunities, the West Haven volleyball team had one last chance to go out on a high note. The Westies made the most of it.
Behind the play of Jenna Dececchi and Kori Wilkerson, West Haven defeated Hillhouse 3-0 in the season finale. With the win, West Haven improved to 6-12, two victories short of qualifying for the postseason.
“It is really disappointing,” Dececchi said of not playing in the postseason. “We at least wanted to know what it feels like to be in states.
“It is tough knowing how well we played tonight. We definitely fought. We wanted to stay positive. We ended on a great note tonight.”
Behind the play of Dececchi, the Westies set the tone of the match early in the 25-12, 25-18, 25-18 victory.
“The girls played well,” West Haven coach Kate Coldren said. “They played their game and it was a nice way to end the season. They maintained their focus and got the job done despite some distractions during the game.”
With the first game tied at two, Dececchi stepped to the line. Nine service points and five aces later, West Haven had a lead it would never relinquish. The run also saw kills by Cassie Murillo and Wilkerson, which put Hillhouse on its heels.
“It feels good to start that way,” Dececchi said of the run. “It gives us a lot of confidence. It gets us pumped up and excited. When we get like that, you can not stop us.”
Dececchi’s assessment proved correct as Hillhouse never got closer than 10 points in the opening game. A pair of aces by Michelle LeBlanc gave the Westies a 17-4 lead and an ace by Murillo extended the lead to 19-8.
“Jenna had a great game serving and defensively,” Coldren said of Dececchi. 
Hillhouse got within 21-11 but Dececchi put the Westies at ease. Two straight kills by Dececchi extended the lead to 23-11 before Dececchi closed the game with another ace.
“We definitely fought hard tonight,” Dececchi said. “We had that mentality that no one was stopping us.”
The second game was closer than the first as the Academics battled. A pair of kills and an ace by Wilkerson gave West Haven a 3-2 lead before Hillhouse went on a 5-2 run.
The Academics went on a 7-0 run to take a 15-11 lead but the Westies showed plenty of fight. Two kills by Wilkerson brought the Westies within 15-13 before Wilkerson took over at the service line with West Haven trailing 16-14. 
Five points later, West Haven once again had a lead it never relinquished. Murillo’s kill gave West Haven a 22-17 lead and the Westies never looked back in taking a 2-0 lead.
“Kori had a great game offensively,” Coldren said of Wilkerson. “Although the season has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride, I am extremely proud of the girls and what they overcame and accomplished this season, especially the seniors and what they have done in four years for this program.”
Dececchi led West Haven with seven aces and six digs. Wilkerson had eight kills and three aces and Rosita Laureano added five digs in the victory.

Ram Tough
Westies lose to undefeated Cheshire
By MIKE MADERA
Westie Blue
(October 24, 2011) -
 Having been eliminated from postseason contention, West Haven volleyball coach Kate Coldren wanted to see her team battle in the final two matches of the year. Facing an undefeated Cheshire squad, the Westies would need to do that and more.
The trip to Cheshire showed the Westies just how good the Rams are as Cheshire never let West Haven get going in a 25-12, 25-12, 25-11 victory. With the loss, West Haven fell to 5-12 on the season.
“Cheshire is good, which is clear from their record,” Coldren said. “They are a solid all around team and extremely consistent.
“The score didn’t reflect how well we played. Sadly, we were all defense and couldn’t finish with our offense.”
The West Haven offense could not make a dent in the Cheshire defense. Through two games, West Haven had nearly triple the amount of digs than kills.
The Rams’ defense moved to the ball well and forced the Westies to work hard for a point. That tenacity is one of many reasons why Cheshire is undefeated.
“At the end of the second game, we had twenty-one digs and six kills,” Coldren said. “You can’t win a game with those stats.
“Errors weren’t bad. We just didn’t make the game challenging enough for a team like Cheshire. Defense was the best I have seen us all season. We were disciplined and anticipated the ball very well.”
The third game was more of the same as Cheshire spread the ball around offensively and was tenacious on defense. West Haven made the plays but not enough to snap Cheshire’s winning streak as the Rams improved to 16-0.
“I’m proud of these seniors,” Coldren said. “I have seen huge improvements from last season and I strongly feel we will end the season on a positive note. The team is looking forward to avenging the loss (Hillhouse) from earlier this season.”
Jenna Dececchi led West Haven’s defense with 10 digs. Rosita Laureano and Cassie Murillo each had six digs, while Kori Wilkerson added four and Michelle LeBlanc had three.
Wilkerson and Murillo led the offense with three kills apiece. Alyssa Perez and Erica Lindsay each had three assists.

Dream’s Over
Westies eliminated from postseason contention
By MIKE MADERA
Westie Blue
WEST HAVEN (October 22, 2011) –
 The afternoon started with plenty of smiles on Senior Day but ended in disappointment. Knowing they needed to win their final three matches to play in the state tournament, the Westies were eliminated with a 3-0 loss to Branford.
“It is especially disappointing knowing there is no state tournament,” West Haven coach Kate Coldren said after her team fell by scores of 25-8, 25-22 and 25-21 to drop to 5-11. “We have two games left. We want to play hard and end on a high note.”
The afternoon started with seniors Cassie Murillo, Kori Wilkerson, Jenna Dececchi, Alyssa Perez, Michelle LeBlanc and Rosita Laureano being honored on their day.
That would be all the celebrating the Westies would do on the afternoon. Despite jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first game, West Haven was never in control.
A kill by Wilkerson gave West Haven a 3-1 lead but Branford scored the next six points on kills by Tara Dering and Anna Atkinson. Another kill by Wilkerson got the Westies within 7-4 but Branford started to pull away.
After a kill by Murillo and a block by Shiela Carlson cut the deficit to10-7, the Hornets went on a 12-0 run to put the first game away. Branford’s Kelly Smith had five aces in the run and Meghan Carlson had two kills and a block. By the time Branford ended the run with an error, the Hornets already had a 23-8 lead.
“I thought we were frantic in the first game,” Coldren said. “Branford went on the run and got some momentum.”
The Westies played much better in the second game although the end result was the same. The teams went back and forth before a kill by Wilkerson got West Haven within 9-7.
A kill by Murillo gave West Haven a 12-10 lead before an ace by LeBlanc and kills by Wilkerson and Erica Lindsay gave the Westies a 16-14 advantage.
Branford went on a 5-0 run on two blocks by Carlson and an ace by Hannah Zampano. An ace by Murillo cut the deficit to 19-18 before Branford scored the next three points.
West Haven got as close as 24-22 on Wilkerson’s kill but Lindsay’s serve into the net ended the second game.
“I thought we played very well in the second game,” Coldren said. “We had no passing or serve receive in the first game but I thought we straightened that out in the second game.”
West Haven battled again in the third game but again came up short. A pair of kills by Wilkerson opened the game and an ace by Dececchi gave West Haven a 4-2 lead.
Wilkerson increased the lead to 6-3 with an ace. West Haven had a 13-6 lead before Branford turned the game around.
A pair of aces by Smith got Branford within 13-10 and an ace by Jen Dziura brought the Hornets within 16-15.
Wilkerson again extended the lead to 18-15 with an ace but Branford had one more run. Trailing 20-18, the Hornets used an ace by Zampano, a kill by Carlson and two West Haven errors to take a 23-20 lead. Smith closed out the game and West Haven’s post season hopes with an ace.
“I am disappointed for the seniors,” Coldren said. “Despite it being Senior Day, we have to be ready to go from the first point.”
Wilkerson led West Haven with 13 kills. Murillo also played well with six kills and four digs while Lindsay added eight assists.

Staying Alive    
Win over Hamden keeps postseason hopes alive 
By MIKE MADERA
Westie Blue
(October 19, 2011) –
 The playoffs have started for the West Haven volleyball team. With four matches remaining in the regular season, the Westies know they can not afford a loss as one defeat ends any hope of playing in the state tournament.
With that in mind, the Westies opened their “postseason” schedule with a road trip to Hamden. Despite some bumps along the way, West Haven remained alive with a 25-18, 25-17, 25-16 victory.
“It was good to recover from the Mercy loss, but the girls didn’t play as strong as I would have liked them to,” West Haven coach Kate Coldren said. “No matter who we play, we need to play our game. We are still making too many unforced errors.”
The Westies were in a battle from the start as the Green Dragons gave the Westies all they could handle. The battle started in the first game before West Haven prevailed by seven points.
The Westies’ serving took over with numerous aces to get West Haven going in the final two games. West Haven also took advantage of numerous Hamden errors in the final two games to improve to 5-10 on the year.
“We now have two days to prepare for Branford,” Coldren said. “The girls need to get more focused and play with some intensity.”
Kori Wilkerson led the Westies with seven kills and four aces on the offensive side. Michelle LeBlanc added seven aces and one kill, Jenna Dececchi had five aces and two kills and Rosita Laureano added four aces. Laureano and Dececchi each led the defense with two digs each.
“Rosita played very well,” Coldren said of Laureano. “She served and passed extremely well. Michelle (LeBlanc) served strong and consistent.”

Pushed to the Brink
Loss to Mercy puts West Haven’s postseason hopes in jeopardy
By MIKE MADERA
Westie Blue
WEST HAVEN (October 17, 2011)
– Knowing it needed four wins in its final five matches, the West Haven volleyball team came out strong against Mercy Monday afternoon. Unfortunately for the Westies, it took until the end of the fourth game for the Westies to once again find the intensity they had to start the game.
In between, Mercy took advantage of several West Haven errors and pushed West Haven’s season to the brink. The Tigers survived the first game loss and beat West Haven 12-25, 25-11, 25-15 and 25-21 at West Haven High.
With the loss West Haven fell to 4-10 on the year and needs to sweep its final four matches, including a visit to Cheshire, if the Westies want to play in the state tournament. With the win, Mercy improved to 8-6 and qualified for the state tournament after starting the season 0-5.
“We started with the intensity we needed, then we waited for them to make mistakes,” West Haven coach Kate Coldren said. “We lost that second game and got down on ourselves. We became passive after that. We stopped playing our game. We stopped passing and we stopped talking out there.”
After cruising to a 25-12 victory in the first game, West Haven took a quick 3-0 lead in the second game, led by Kori Wilkerson’s kill. A pair of kills by Mercy’s Meghan Nelson coupled with Astin Donovan’s ace put Mercy ahead 4-3.
The game would go back and forth until Mercy went on a run to take a 10-6 lead. A kill by Wilkerson and an ace by Michelle LeBlanc got West Haven within 10-8 but Mercy closed out the game on a 15-3 run to even the contest.
“I think we lost confidence in that second game,” Coldren said.
Mercy attacked from the start in the third game and jumped out to a 5-2 lead. The Westies battled back and evened the game at 10 before two Westie errors and three straight aces by Nina Zimmitti put Mercy in control at 14-10.
The Westies got as close as 16-14 but a run of eight straight points with Nelson on the line gave Mercy a 24-14 lead. After Cassie Murillo stopped the run with a kill, she followed with a serve into the net, giving Mercy a 2-1 lead.
Coldren had a stern talk with her team following the third game and the Westies played with a different energy in the fourth game. Trailing 16-9 and with the match on the line, the Westies turned it on.
With Rosita Laureano on the service line after a Jenna Dececchi kill, the Westies cut a 21-10 deficit to 21-18. Laureano served four aces, including three in a row art one point, Wilkerson had two kills and Dececchi added another kill in the run.
Wilkerson cut the deficit to 23-20 with a kill and a Mercy error got West Haven within 23-21. Nelson ended any hopes of a West Haven comeback with the final two kills of the match.
“I just told them we needed to play with pride for ourselves and everyone out here,” Coldren said of her talk between the third and fourth games. “I told them they needed to play with heart. Mercy was not going to give us this game.
“I was happy with the way they responded in the run at the end of the game. That was all I wanted to see. I wanted to see them play with some heart and that is what they gave me.”
Wilkerson led the Westies with nine kills, four blocks, four digs, two aces and two assists. Laureano added six aces and three digs and Murillo finished with six kills, four digs and three aces.

Sense of Urgency
Westies’ postseason lives hanging by a thread
By MIKE MADERA
Westie Blue
WEST HAVEN (October 12, 2011) –
 There was no way West Haven captain Kori Wilkerson was going to be denied. Knowing the postseason lives of her teammates were riding on every hit, dig and kill, Wilkerson carried the team on her back in a 3-2 victory over Sacred Heart Academy Wednesday afternoon at West Haven High.
Wilkerson’s efforts were evident from start to finish as West Haven improved to 4-9. The Westies can afford only one loss in the remaining five matches to play in thre state tournament. 
Wilkerson finished with 23 kills, 14 digs, four aces and one block as the Westies rallied to stun the Pacers 20-25, 25-17, 15-25, 26-24 and 18-16.
“I think we finally realized we are at the very bottom of the barrel and we had to dig our way out of it,” Wilkerson said after her team posted its biggest win of the season thus far. “We played together. Everyone stayed together and we played as a team. We were aggressive.
“I think we finally trusted each other out there. We all need to play together and realize we all have to do our part out there.”
Sacred Heart looked as if it was going to close the match out in the fourth game. A pair of aces by Caitlin Malloy gave the Pacers a 16-13 lead. After knotting the game at 18, West Haven watched as Sacred Heart took a 22-19 lead.
The Westies tied the game on a kill and an ace by Cassie Murillo. Wilkerson then saved the match and possibly West Haven’s season.
Trailing 24-23 and with Sacred Heart at match point, Wilkerson delivered a booming kill to knot the game at 24. An error by the Pacers gave West Haven a one point lead before a kill by Kara Patterson forced a deciding fifth game.
“To West Haven’s credit, I thought they capitalized on a couple of our errors,” Sacred Heart coach Dave Alexandro said. “We gave them balls and they were aggressive. We did not put them away and they came back.
“Once we did not get some points, I thought we started to play a little tentatively. We were not aggressive. That played right into West Haven’s hands. All the credit goes to them (West Haven). They earned it.”
The Westies started the deciding game trailing 7-4, then 12-7. As was the case in the fourth game, Sacred Heart was three points away from closing the match, but led a 12-7 lead slip away.
Wilkerson’s kill got West Haven within four points before Murillo’s kill got West Haven within 12-9. The Westies trailed 13-9 and 14-10 and would not go away.
With Michelle LeBlanc on the line, West Haven took a 15-14 lead. Kills by Murillo and Wilkerson got West Haven within 14-13
The Westies battled back to take a 16-15 lead but Wilkerson’s kill attempt was out to even the game at 16. West Haven won the match by taking home the final two points of the match.
“I think we are finally realizing the situation we are in,” Coldren said. “We came together. When we started to lose it, we brought it back together. We made adjustments better.”
The Westies lost the first game by five points. Jenna Dececchi had West Haven within 21-18 with a kill and 23-19 with another kill, but the Pacers closed the game on a high note to win the first game.
West Haven took control of the third game with Dececchi on the line. The senior delivered three aces as the Westies took a 5-0 lead and never looked back.
The Pacers got within 14-11, but two aces by Rosita Laureano started a 3-0 run for s 17-11 lead. Wilkerson closed the second game with four kills in West Haven’s final five points.
“She was outstanding,” Coldren said of Wilkerson. “There is no other way to say it. When I needed someone to put it away, she put it away. When we needed someone to go up and get it, she did that. She was just outstanding. She was every where out there.”
The Pacers won the third game by ten points, setting up the final two games of the match. Erica Lindsay finished with seven assists and Dececchi had a big day as well. Dececchi finished with nine digs, five kills, three aces and an assist.  

Westies fall to Guilford
Team drops to 3-9 after loss
By MIKE MADERA
Westie Blue
(October 11, 2011) –
 As the season flies by, the losses hurt more. Such is the case for the West Haven volleyball team.
Looking to find any sort of a groove to get into, the Westies have not been able to get on track. Tuesday evening in Guilford saw the Westies play much better than in previous contests but still fall short to the Indians by scores of 22-25, 25-21, 25-18 and 25-19.
“I thought we had some energy,” West Haven coach Kate Coldren said. “We were relaxed. We were not frantic. We made some mistakes but we didn’t dwell on them.”
The effort was better right from the start as the Westies battled the Indians to the end. In a first game which saw several lead changes, the Westies held on to defeat Guilford by three points.
“We came out and got the win,” Coldren said. “I thought we fought hard.”
After winning the first game, West Haven looked to increase the advantage. The Westies did not do so as the Indians won the close game by four points.
The second game was huge for many reasons. During the season, any close game the Westies have lost has usually been followed with a lack of aggressive play.
That was not the case against Guilford. The Westies continued to battle in the third game, only to fall by seven points. Guilford completed the victory in the fourth game but Coldren saw a different West Haven team on the floor.
“I think the way they played is a tribute to the team,” Coldren said. “We are finally seeing a sense of urgency. We did what we had to do to win.”
Erica Lindsay ran the West Haven offense with 10 assists. Kori Wilkerson finished with seven kills and Jenna Dececchi added five kills.
On the defensive side, Rosita Laureano led the way with six digs, while Cassie Murillo, Wilkerson and Dececchi each had three digs.
The Westies had a hard time containing Guilford’s Meg Goodrich, who finished with 12 kills, 13 service points and five aces on offense and seven digs on defense. Caitlin Sobolewski also proved to be too much for the Westies as she finished with 14 kills, 11 service points and nine digs.

No Match
Amity easily defeats Westies
By MIKE MADERA
Westie Blue
WEST HAVEN (October 6, 2011) –
 Looking to bounce back from a defeat at the hands of Branford, the West Haven volleyball team knew it was facing a tough squad in Amity. Coach Kate Coldren wanted her team to communicate and play in control in order to pull off the upset.
The Spartans showed why they are a tough opponent right from the start. Using a stellar defense and a quick moving attack, Amity thoroughly defeated the Westies 25-4, 25-9 and 25-14 at West Haven High Thursday afternoon.
“We looked frantic and disorganized out there,” Coldren said. “We played too chaotic. We did not regroup. We have to get back together and go back to basics.”
Amity showed just how tough a match it would be right from the start. The Spartans’ defense was all over the court and held the Westies to just four points in a 21-point victory.
“Their defense is outstanding,” Coldren said of Amity. “Their middles are all over the court. We made a lot of errors once again.”
The second game was not much better for the Westies. Trailing 4-2, West Haven got going on a Jenna Dececchi kill. A block by Jessica Malinconico, a West Haven error and a kill by Malinconico increased the Amity lead to 7-3. 
West Haven's Jenna Dececchi goes up for a kill against Amity, October 6, 2011. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske. 
After a West Haven point, the Spartans then went on a 12-0 run, with West Haven making three errors and Malinconico blasting a kill for a 14-4 lead. Two kills by Zoe Moscato and an ace put West Haven in a 19-4 hole.
The Westies bounced back with three straight points on an ace by Rosita Laureano and a kill by Kori Wilkerson, but Amity answered. A 6-2 run ended the second game with Alyssa Mirmina’s ace setting up game point.
“We looked in shock,” Coldren said.
West Haven tried to put up a fight in the third game, taking a 2-0 lead on a kill by Wilkerson. Dececchi’s block put West Haven ahead 3-1 before the Spartans rolled off the next four points. 
Amity used three West Haven errors to take a 15-7 lead before a kill by Dececchi and an ace by Laureano brought West Haven within16-11. The Spartans closed out the match on a 9-3 run.
With the loss West Haven falls to 3-8 and now needs five wins in its last seven matches to qualify for the state tournament.
“We need five out of seven,” Coldren said. “We are digging a deeper hole. We need to have that mental toughness. We need to step up and be leaders on the court.”
Alyssa Perez led West Haven with eight digs. Wilkerson had seven digs and three kills and Dececchi finished with four kills and four digs. 

Back to Square One
Westies fall to Branford in one-sided affair
By MIKE MADERA 
Westie Blue
(October 5, 2011) –
 After seemingly turning the corner with a well played effort against Hamden Monday evening, the West Haven volleyball team hit a roadblock two days later. Getting off to a slow start against Branford, the Westies battled back with some life in the second game. 
The Hornets quickly stole the momentum and rode the play of senior setter Jennifer Dziura to defeat the Westies 25-8, 22-25, 25-17 and 25-12. The loss dropped West Haven to 3-7 on the year. 
With eight matches remaining, the Westies need to get in gear or face the reality of missing the state tournament. 
“Any loss is always disappointing especially when the team is beatable,” West Haven head coach Kate Coldren said. “We proved that in the second game and the start of the third game.
“We let Branford get a run and we fell apart after that.  In the second game, we played with the sense of urgency that we've been stressing the entire season.  They showed that they have some fight in them but we still need more fight in order to get more wins.”
West Haven started the match slowly in a game the Westies would like to forget. Branford made quick work of West Haven in the opening game, holding the Westies to just eight points. 
The second game was a different story as the Westies held leads, then finally hung on to win by three points. Looking to gain momentum from that second game, the Westies never capitalized.
Paced by Dziura, who finished the match with 24 assists, three aces and was 12-for-12 serving, Branford got on a roll. The Hornets took the lead in the third game and held West Haven at arm’s length to take a 2-1 lead. 
“These teams are not going to hand the match to us,” Coldren said. “We have to work for it and earn it.  Kori (Wilkerson) had another great game and played very consistently and Cassie (Murillo) had a good game as well.  Cassie brought some great energy and points at critical times in the match.” 
Branford’s victory in the third game took the life out of the Westies as the Hornets rolled in the fourth and final game, winning by 13 points. 
Kori Wilkerson, who continues to have a stellar year for the Westies, led West Haven with 13 kills, seven blocks and five digs. Cassie Murillo finished with six kills and five digs in the loss.

Booming Win
Westies back on winning track with win over Hamden
By MIKE MADERA
Westie Blue
WEST HAVEN (October 3, 2011) –
 After a lackluster loss to Mercy Friday afternoon, the West Haven volleyball team needed a change. That change started with the team’s approach to the game.
Against Hamden Monday afternoon, the Westies started out quickly and played with intensity and a renewed focus. All this led to a 25-22, 25-15, 25-10 victory at West Haven High.
“Friday seemed like we were not together,” senior Kori Wilkerson said after her team improved to 3-6. “Tonight we worked together and communicated a lot better. Winning the first game gave us confidence.”
The first game Wilkerson is talking about started with a 4-0 run led by an ace from Alyssa Perez. Hamden did not take its first lead in the opening game until 11-10 but a kill by Wilkerson restored the Westie lead at 12-11.
Hamden’s last lead in the opening game came at 17-16. With Cassie Murillo on the line, West Haven pulled away to take a 22-18 lead on two Murillo aces and a kill by Jenna Dececchi. Another kill by Dececchi increased the lead to 23-20 before an error by Hamden closed out the first game. 
“We have to keep that mentality that no one can stop us,” Dececchi said. “We are a very good team. We were able to push through the first game. Sometimes we get down if we lose the first game but we were able to push through it.”
West Haven started the second game on a 4-1 run, paced by Wilkerson’s kill. Despite tying the second game six times, Hamden led just once.
An ace by Dececchi gave West Haven a 12-11 lead. That lead increased to 15-12 on Murillo’s kill and 16-12 on Wilkerson’s ace.
“At practice yesterday, we had a nice long chat,” West Haven coach Kate Coldren said. “I explained to them what went on Friday and where we need to go from here. We are running out of time. I explained to the girls how many games are left and how many we need to win if we want to make it (state tournament).
“There is light at the end of the tunnel. We are down but we are not out. We have some big teams coming up.”
West Haven closed the game with an 8-0 run, seven of those points coming with Murillo on the service line. The senior delivered three aces in the run, including the final point of the game. 
An ace by Cassie Murillo closed out the second game against Hamden, October 3, 2011. 
“We were consistent,” Coldren said. “We had strong serves and finished with twenty-four aces. We need to be consistent with everything.”
Dececchi led the way in the third game. The senior went to the service line with the game even at two and left with West Haven leading 10-3. The run saw a block by Kara Patterson, four aces from Dececchi and a kill by Wilkerson. 
Murillo’s kill gave West Haven a 17-4 lead before a pair of aces by Michelle LeBlanc increased the lead to 19-4. Kills by Dececchi and Wilkerson put the game at match point and an error by Hamden ended the game in easy fashion for the Westies.
“I think today was definitely different,” Wilkerson said after finishing with six kills, five aces, three blocks and two digs.
Murillo finished with eight aces and four digs and Dececchi had seven aces, three kills and two digs. Perez finished with seven assists. 

Communication Failure
Westies fall to Mercy 3-0
By MIKE MADERA
Westie Blue
(September 30, 2011) –
 Coming off a victory over Lyman Hall, the West Haven volleyball team had hoped to go on a roll. Instead, the Westies hit a roadblock.
Traveling to Middletown Friday afternoon to play Mercy, the Westies jumped out to leads in the first two games but could not hold on in either. The end result was a 3-0 loss to the Tigers by scores of 25-18, 25-21 and 25-14.
“We would get ahead by five, then give back seven,” West Haven coach Kate Coldren said after her team fell to 2-6 on the season. “We were very inconsistent. That hurts. There was no communication.”
The Westies led early in the first game but quickly gave the lead back in the seven-point loss. The second game was much of the same as the Westies hung around until the end, before falling by four points.
“It (consistency) depends on the day,” Coldren said of her team. “I wish I could say what causes it. We went out in the first and second games and we were up five right away.
“It was the same story. We let up and it was downhill from there.”
The emotions of losing the first two games proved too much for the Westies as the Tigers cruised in the third and final game.
Kori Wilkerson led the Westies with nine digs, six kills and three blocks. Jenna Dececchi added six digs and two aces while Erica Lindsay had six assists and two digs.

Back on Track
Westies end losing streak with win over Trojans
By MIKE MADERA
Westie Blue
WEST HAVEN (September 27, 2011) –
 Riding a losing streak which had reached four matches, the West Haven volleyball team was looking to right the ship. Squandering early leads and making too many errors were becoming a pattern.
All that ended Tuesday evening at West Haven High. Led by the play of senior captains Kori Wilkerson and Jenna Dececchi, West Haven got back in the win column with a 25-18, 24-26, 25-15, 25-15 victory. The win was West Haven’s second over Lyman Hall this season.
“This was a big win for us today,” West Haven coach Kate Coldren said after her team improved to 2-5 on the year. “We came out with a better attitude. We had a lot more focus tonight.”
The key to the match came in the third game for West Haven. After posting a 25-18 victory in the first game, West Haven watched as Lyman Hall squeaked out a 26-24 victory in the second game.
The pattern during the losing skid was West Haven losing the next game. Tuesday evening saw something different.
Using an 11-0 run with Michelle LeBlanc on the service line, West Haven turned an early deficit into a 15-6 lead, on its way to a 10-point victory. The run saw four aces by LeBlanc and two kills by Cassie Murillo. 
MIchelle LeBlanc delivers an ace against Lyman Hall, September 27, 2011. 
Murillo’s first kill of the run was made possible by tremendous digs by Dececchi and Wilkerson. That kill gave West Haven a 12-6 lead and the Westies never looked back as they took a 2-1 lead in games.
“I think we were more aggressive tonight,” Wilkerson said. “It has been really difficult in the slump we were in. We need to get out of it. It is still early.
“I think our communication was a lot better tonight. We worked well together tonight.”
Leading 22-15 in the third game, West Haven closed out the game with Wilkerson on the line. The Westie senior sandwiched a block by Dececchi with aces to take a 2-1 lead.
“We needed to come together,” Dececchi said. “We needed to clear everything out. We worked together tonight.
“I think we were more aggressive tonight. At crunch time, we were more focused. It feels great. We know we have the talent. We hope this win will get us going.”
The Westies trailed 7-6 in the fourth and final game and rallied once again. With Rosita Laureano on the service line, the Westies scored the next seven points. Laureano had three aces in the run and Wilkerson’s kill gave the Westies a 13-6 lead. 
An ace by Erica Lindsay gave West Haven a 17-7 lead before LeBlanc went to the line with West Haven leading 21-14. A dig by Dececchi had West Haven ahead by eight points before two Lyman Hall errors put the Westies at the brink of snapping the losing skid.West Haven wasted no time sealing the contest. Shiela Carlson’s kill was the final point of the game as the losing streak ended.
“We were able to get the momentum back after that second game,” Coldren said. “We have some tough games coming up. Our goal is still to make the state and conference tournaments. We are one step closer with the way we played today.”
Wilkerson led West Haven with 12 kills, nine digs and four aces. Dececchi added eight kills, five digs and three aces while LeBlanc had nine aces and two digs. 
Alena Buonocore led Lyman Hall with 14 assists while Lauren Gaffney played well on defense with 14 digs. 

Slipping and Sliding
Westies drop fourth straight in loss to SHA 
By MIKE MADERA
Westie Blue
(September 23, 2011) -
 West Haven volleyball coach Kate Coldren feels her team can play much better than it has. The question for Coldren and the Westies is when will that time be?
After starting quickly against Sacred Heart Friday evening, the Westies dropped the last three games. With the loss, West Haven dropped its fourth consecutive match and fell to 1-5 on the season.
“We just didn’t play well,” Coldren said.
In a game which was a battle, the Westies opened the match with a 25-23 victory. Sacred Heart easily won the second game 25-14 and the momentum went to the Pacers, who seized the opportunity and took the final two games 25-17 and 25-10.
Despite the loss, Kori Wilkerson continued her stellar season with a team-leading nine aces, seven kills and six digs.
“Kori has been our most consistent player,” Coldren said.
Jenna Dececchi also continued to play well with seven kills, one ace, one block and one dig.
“Jenna has been great,” Coldren said. “Both Kori and Jenna have stepped up to the plate. They play excellent defense and they are consistently where they need to be.”
Defensively, Michelle LeBlanc also led the Westies with six digs. Erica Lindsay had 12 assists and two aces, while Alyssa Perez added eight assists in running the offense with Lindsay.
The match started with each team battling back and forth before West Haven prevailed. Whatever momentum West Haven had quickly faded in the second game as the Pacers easily rolled to an 11-point victory.
The Pacers continued to pressure the Westies in the third game, winning by eight. Down 2-1 in games, West Haven was down early and never recovered as Sacred Heart took the fourth game in lop-sided fashion. 

Not Enough
Westies fall to 1-4 with loss to Guilford 
By MIKE MADERA
Westie Blue
WEST HAVEN (September 20, 2011) – 
After defeating Lyman Hall in the second match of the year, the West Haven volleyball team was hoping to get on a run. While the Westies are on a run, it is not the kind they envisioned. 
Since losing the last game of a five game loss against Hillhouse, the Westies have lost seven consecutive games. The latest three came Tuesday evening at West Haven High when the Westies were blanked by Guilford 25-12, 25-18 and 25-23.
“It is another tough loss,” Coldren said. “Guilford is a very good team and they came ready to play. All the teams we have played so far have played with a desire to win and a sense of urgency. My girls have the talent but are not putting all their skills together.”
As was the case in Monday evening’s loss to Amity, the Westies started slow and did not have enough time to get back in the match. Although West Haven battled in the final game, it was not enough as they did not take care of business in the first two games. 
The match started well for the Westies as Jenna Dececchi rolled off three consecutive aces for a 3-1 West Haven lead. Guilford rolled off the next four points before an ace by Rosita Laureano knotted the game at five. The Indians put the first game away immediately after. A 15-5 run gave Guilford a 20-10 lead. Dececchi’s ace stopped the bleeding but Guilford closed the game on a 5-0 run to lead 1-0. 
“We couldn’t settle down and just get a pass in order to run our offense,” Coldren said. “One bad pass led to another bad pass and a bad set. It was a snowball effect.”
The second game was just a little better for the Westies. Guilford scored four of the first five points and the Indians took an 8-2 lead when Cassie Murillo’s kill attempt sailed into the net.
An ace by Michelle LeBlanc got West Haven within 10-5 and a kill by Brittney Reis brought West Haven within 12-9.
Meg Goodrich then put the Westies away. With Goodrich on the line, the Indians took a 16-9 lead, effectively ending the second game.
West Haven got as close as four points twice in the middle game. The Westies trailed 17-13 on a Guilford error and got within 20-16 on Reis’ ace. The Indians used a 5-2 run to close out the game and put West Haven on the brink of losing another game.
“My players need to come into the next game with focus and play smart volleyball,” Coldren said. “We have to clean up our skills and get back to basics of passing, setting and hitting. When we do that, it works very well for us. Each girl needs to understand their role on the team and push themselves to stop this streak.
“I am concerned. If we don’t change and make some adjustments, that is what will happen. Three games will turn into seven. Our schedule is not easy and teams are going to improve as the season goes on. West Haven has to improve as well.”
Dececchi led West Haven with six kills, five aces and three digs. Wilkerson added six digs, four kills and three aces, while Alyssa Perez had seven assists and Erica Lindsay added five assists.

Slow Start
Westies shut out by Amity
By MIKE MADERA
Westie Blue
(September 19, 2011) -
 This was not the start to the season West Haven coach Kate Coldren envisioned. Hoping to get out of the gates quickly, the West Haven volleyball team has sputtered, winning just once in its first four matches.
After splitting its first two matches, West Haven had hoped to take a step in the right direction. That step did not take place as the Westies followed a disappointing loss against Hillhouse with a lop-sided loss at Amity.
West Haven started slowly and never recovered against a tough Amity squad. The Spartans dominated from the start, winning 25-8, 25-16 and 25-21.
“I’m not concerned yet,” Coldren said. “We are only four games in. We have a lot of season left.”
The Westies only had 21 kills as a team and were chasing from the start. Amity dominated the first game and easily won by 17 points.
West Haven picked up its play in the second game but again came out on the short end, 25-16. Amity finally finished off the Westies in the third game, winning by four.
“We waited for the third game to start playing,” Coldren said. “You can’t do that against a team like Amity.”
Erica Lindsay ran the West Haven offense as she dished out 14 assists. Kori Wilkerson and Brittney Reis each had seven kills, while Cassie Murillo finished with four.
West Haven did not have an answer for the Amity offense as the Westies finished with a total of 21 digs and four blocks. Rosita Laureano led the team with five digs, while Reis had four.
“Kori Wilkerson and Jenna Dececchi have been pretty consistent,” Coldren said. “They are my captains. They have probably been the two most consistent players. They bring that leadership being the captains.”

West Haven falls to Academics
Sloppy play leads to 3-2 loss
By MIKE MADERA
Westie Blue
WEST HAVEN (Sept. 17, 2011) –
 The West Haven volleyball team was given a lesson regarding taking a team lightly Saturday afternoon. The Westies won the first game against Hillhouse then watched as the Academics took home three of the next four games to win 3-2.
In a contest which saw West Haven looking a lot rather than moving, Hillhouse defeated the Westies 21-25, 25-22, 25-21, 14-25 and 15-10 at West Haven High.
“I think we had a false sense of security after that first game,” West Haven coach Kate Coldren said. “Hillhouse did not let up. They went after every single ball. They were hustling all the time. We seemed to be watching.”
Behind the play of Quanisha Solomon and Colleen Smith, Hillhouse was able to hold off the Westies. Solomon turned the match around all by herself in the deciding fifth game.
With West Haven trailing 4-3, the Westies appeared to have tied the deciding game with a Kori Wilkerson kill. But, Solomon dove and saved the ball with one arm, allowing Hillhouse to get the point and take a 5-3 lead.
Solomon then made the play which took all the air out of the Westies. Her diving save of a loose ball propelled the Academics to another point and a 6-3 lead.
“They hustled throughout the entire day,” Coldren said. “We did not hustle. We did not play with a sense of urgency even down two games. We were waiting for Hillhouse to make plays. We did not play well.”
Hillhouse scored the next four points to take a 10-3 lead before a Wilkerson kill and another by Cassie Murillo cut the deficit to 10-5. Another Murillo kill got West Haven within 11-6 before Hillhouse grabbed the next two points.
A kill by Jenna Dececchi and a pair of aces by Rosita Laureano brought West Haven within 13-9. The run ended when a pair of West Haven errors closed out the game and the match as West Haven fell to 1-2. 
“I am disappointed,” Coldren said. “It is very disappointing.”
After winning the first game 25-21, West Haven dropped the next two games. With the game knotted at 16 in the second game, Solomon served Hillhouse to a 19-16 lead.
West Haven got as close as 21-20 on a kill by Dececchi but the Westies could not pull out the second game.
With the third game knotted at 12, Hillhouse again went on a run. The Westies tied the game at 19 on an ace by Brittney Reis but the Academics again had an answer to win by four.
The Westies easily won the fourth game as the serving of Erica Lindsay got West Haven off to a 5-0 start. Lindsay had a pair of aces and Reis a pair of kills in the run.
Three aces by Dececchi gave West Haven a 10-2 lead before the Westies put the game away with Wilkerson on the line. Five aces by Wilkerson in the run led to a 19-5 West Haven lead.
West Haven closed out the fourth game with a Wilkerson kill, forcing a deciding fifth game. 
Kori Wilkerson with an ace against Hillhouse, September 17, 2011. 
Wilkerson led West Haven with 16 kills, six aces, three assists and two digs. Reis added 12 kills and nine digs while Lindsay finished with 14 assists and four aces.

Westies defeat Lyman Hall
Team effort leads to first win of the season
By MIKE MADERA
Westie Blue
(Sept. 15,2011) -
 Coming off a thorough defeat at the hands of Cheshire in the season opener, the West Haven volleyball team was looking to right the ship. The Westies did so in emphatic fashion Thursday evening when they traveled to Wallingford to play Lyman Hall.
Overcoming a little bit of a lull in the second game, West Haven won the final two games and posted a 3-1 victory over the Trojans. The final score was 25-17, 25-27, 25-19 and 25-16.
“Getting that first win under our belt is always positive so we can keep the team’s spirit up and get some confidence,” West Haven coach Kate Coldren said.
The key to the match was the second game. After winning the first game, West Haven trailed in the second game by nine points. Although the rally fell short, the tone was set for the rest of the match.
“Although we lost the second game, we still had the momentum because we came back from a nine point deficit,” Coldren said. “Obviously, we didn’t want to get ourselves in a two-game hole, so we seemed to carry over that momentum into the third game. We did what we needed to do to get the win.”
West Haven came out firing in the third game and won by six points. With a 2-1 lead, West Haven took control in the fourth and final game and posted an easy victory.
“Going into the game, the girls knew they needed to play their game and come out strong,” Coldren said. “We knew we couldn’t underestimate them.”
Brittney Reis, who was held in check by Cheshire in the opener, had a strong day to lead the Westies. Reis led the team with 13 kills, four aces, one block, one dig and one assist.
“Brittney definitely played more relaxed,” Coldren said of her senior hitter. “Her timing was much better and she was more focused.”
Alyssa Perez and Erica Lindsay ran the offense. Perez finished with nine assists and Lindsay added eight assists.
Jenna Dececchi had six aces and four kills while Kori Wilkerson added seven kills, two blocks and two assists. Shiela Carlson also played well, finishing with three kills and two aces.
“Both Kori and Jenna played extremely well,” Coldren said. “They got their offense going. Kori stepped up her blocking game as well.”
Overall, Coldren was pleased with the team’s effort in the first victory of the year.
“All in all, the girls played very well,” Coldren said. “We made some silly mistakes where we lost focus in the second game but we recovered pretty quickly. We passed a lot better so we were able to run our offense and play our game. We did a good job of not dwelling on the Cheshire game and the mistakes that were made. We made the necessary adjustments.”

Cheshire too much for Westies
Too many errors costly in opening loss
By MIKE MADERA
Westie Blue
WEST HAVEN (Sept. 13, 2011) –
 Knowing the importance of getting off to a quick start, the West Haven volleyball team ran into powerhouse Cheshire to start the regular season. Looking overmatched in the first two games, West Haven rallied in the third but could not come back in a 3-0 loss to the Rams.
Despite forcing Cheshire to sweat out the third game, the Westies made too many errors in the first two games against a tough Cheshire team. The end result was a 25-19, 25-9, 25-21 loss at West Haven High in the season opener for both teams.
“We showed a lot of resiliency in the last game,” West Haven coach Kate Coldren said. “We would not have needed that resiliency if we played better in the second game. But, I am proud of the way they showed some fight.”
After losing the first two games and trailing 13-7 in the third game, West Haven battled back to knot the game at 19 on an ace by Michelle Leblanc. A service error gave Cheshire a 20-19 lead but Kelly Gunneson’s kill attempt for Cheshire sailed wide to knot the game at 20.
The rally would not last for the Westies as Cheshire ran off the next three points on kills by Abby Dorman and Amanda Palladino. After Kori Wilkerson brought West Haven within 23-21 with a kill, Cheshire closed out the match with the final two points, including Palladino’s kill.
“I think after the first two games, we settled in and got some confidence,” Wilkerson said after finishing with six digs and three kills. “Sometimes we get in a funk. We have to continue to pull together.
“I thought we worked together well in the last game. We have to use each other and know we can not play as individuals.”
Cheshire came out firing to start the contest, taking a 7-3 lead. A kill by Alyssa Perez brought West Haven within 7-4 and kills by Kara Patterson and Perez brought West Haven within 9-7.
Cheshire continued to hold the lead before Brittney Reis got West Haven as close as 13-10 with a kill. A 4-1 run by the Rams put West Haven in a 17-10 hole but Wilkerson’s ace got West Haven to 17-12.
The Westies went on a late run, paced by an ace by Leblanc to cut the deficit to 20-17. The rally was cut short when Cheshire was awarded a point when Leblanc tied her shoe on the line. Cheshire ended the game with four of the final six points. 
“I thought we showed some nerves to start the match,” Coldren said. “We tend to dwell on mistakes which we made. We had a few people out of position tonight. We definitely need to tighten up. But, I am proud of the way we played especially against a team like Cheshire.”
Cheshire owned the second game from the start, jumping out to a 12-2 lead on a kill by Palladino. West Haven made numerous unforced errors and trailed 17-5 when Dorman blasted a kill. Cassie Murillo’s kill  got West Haven within 22-9 but it was not enough in the loss.
“We know we have to play better,” Wilkerson said. “We know we can not underestimate anyone.”
Perez finished the contest with four kills and five assists for the Westies. Gina Buzzelli led Cheshire with 22 assists. Palladino had 10 kills and Gunneson finished with eight kills and four blocks. 

Driven
Focus key for successful season
By MIKE MADERA
Westie Blue
Finishing just shy of qualifying for the postseason in 2010, the West Haven volleyball team is on a mission. With seven seniors on the roster, the goals are simple for this team.
The Westies, while focusing on each match at a time, are looking to qualify for the Southern Connecticut Conference tournament and state tournament. If the breaks go their way, the Westies are looking to win the division as well.
“I think we have a really good offense,” West Haven coach Kate Coldren said. “We have a lot of good hitters. Our defense is really good. It is very good.
“I like the way we work together as a team. It is a real cohesive group.”
Leading the way for West Haven are senior tri-captains Kori Wilkerson, Jenna Dececchi and Cassie Murillo. Wilkerson will lead the offense from her middle hitter position, while Dececchi and Murillo are outside hitters.
Senior Brittney Reis will also be a force in front both offensively and defensively with her height at the outside hitter position. Senior Rosita Laureano is a consistent player at the libero position while fellow senior Alyssa Perez will run the offense from her setter position.
“The key for us is to stay focused,” Coldren said. “We need to play one game at a time, one point at a time. We need to keep it simple. We have to play basic volleyball.”
Coldren hopes keeping it simple will lead to big things for her team in 2011.

THE HOME OF WEST HAVEN SPORTS

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Volleyball Awards given at Team Banquet, Tuesday, November 29. 2011

Kori Wilkerson - Varsity MVP, Most Kills, Most Digs, Most Blocks
Jenna Dececchi - Most Aces
Erica Lindsay - Most Assists
Savannah Brown (JV) - Junior Varsity MVP
Talon Yahaya (JV) - Most Improved
Leah Morrissey (JV) - Coach's Award

Michelle LeBlanc with a dig against Hillhouse, October 26, 2011 as Jenna Dececchi (21) looks on. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske. 

The Westies bring it together one last time against Hillhouse, October 26, 2011. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske. 

Jenna Dececchi has her eyes on the ball against Hamden, October 3, 2011. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske. 

Rosita Laureano makes a play on defense against Hamden, October 3, 2011. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske. 

Cassie Murillo dives to keep the ball alive against Hillhouse, October 26, 2011. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske. 

Michelle LeBlanc sets up the offense as Cassie Murillo (l.) and Kori Wilkerson (obstructed) look on against Hamden, October 3, 2011. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.

Cassie Murillo expresses her confidence in the Westies, October 26, 2011 against Hillhouse. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske. 

Kori Wilkerson (center) prepares for a dig as Michelle LeBlanc (left) and Jenna Dececchi (right) look on. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske. 

West Haven's Jenna Dececchi (21) goes for the kill against Guilford, September 20, 2011. Photo courtesy of Russ McCreven. 

VOLLEYBALL 2011