Closeness key to 2014 Season
Program headed in right direction despite first round loss
By MIKE MADERA
(November 3, 2014) - It certainly did not end the way the West Haven volleyball team had hoped. A quick start to the season and berths in both the Southern Connecticut Conference and state tournaments seemed hollow Monday evening after the Westies fell to Hall 3-0 in the opening round of the CIAC Class LL state tournament at West Haven High.
The match was a microcosm of the West Haven season as of late. Get down early, come back strong and battle to the end.
Unfortunately for the Westies, that formula did not work out well as the Westies lost three of their last four regular season matches and both postseason appearances.
“It (stinks) so bad,” West Haven tri-captain Jill Moran said. “We tried so hard. I feel this game reflected those matches we lost.”
Jill Moran (3) sets up the offense against Hall in the Class LL first round , November 3, 2014. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
West Haven was within a point from taking the opening game when a kill by Talon Yahaya and a Hall error gave the Westies a 24-19 lead. The Westies never recorded another point in the opening game as Hall got the serve and rode the play of Michelle Brook to six straight points at the line and a stunning win in the opening game.
“I think it may have rattled us a little bit,” West Haven coach Kate Coldren said after her team finished the year 12-10. “We didn’t give them any points. They fought for every single point.”
An aggressive West Haven team in the middle part of the first game seemed tentative moving forward in the second game and the Warriors took advantage, using a 7-2 run to start the middle game. The Westies fought all the way back and evened the game at 24 on a kill by Amanda DiLeonardo, but could not take advantage of having the serve and Hall rallied for a 27-25 win.
“Their defense was tough,” senior tri-captain Blair Ludoviconi said. “We had some service errors. Coach always says we can’t allow easy points and those are points we allowed. We battled to the end. It (stinks) that it is over.”
Blair Ludoviconi with a serve against Hall in the Class LL first round, November 3, 2014. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
While those losses may sting right now, the Westies have plenty to be proud of once the hurt goes away. Captains Bertolini, Moran and Ludoviconi all stated they would play in the postseason when talking in the preseason. All three delivered and lived up to the challenge.
“I could not be any more proud of everyone on this team,” Bertolini said. “We can say we were part of the team that helped get West Haven where it is.
“It definitely (stinks) it is over. I did not want to let my teammates or the fans down. All the games were really close. We wish it went the other way.”
With Blair Ludoviconi (9) and Kayley Carr (1) in on the action, Danielle Bertolini (18) dives to save a point against Hall in the Class LL first round , November 3, 2014. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Ask any player on the team and each will tell you the key to success this season was the closeness of the squad. This could not be any more evident than when tragedy hit the Westies.
Early in the season, Coldren suffered a personal loss when her long-time boyfriend unexpectedly passed away. Coldren did not need to look further than her girls as they offered the support the coach needed to get through a difficult time.
“These girls were my lifeline,” an emotional Coldren said through tears following the loss to Hall. “When I had all that personal stuff going on, they came together as a team. They were there for me. It was tough, but these girls provided what I needed.”
That respect of players and coach is felt on both sides. Through her personal pain, Coldren returned and helped the Westies to a solid start to the year. Coldren was rewarded by being named the Southern Connecticut Conference’s Coach of the Year.
“We were able to be part of the team that showed where West Haven volleyball should be,” Ludoviconi said. “Coach said this is the best season she ever coached.
We are a big family. To see her happy like that and knowing she loves the team, it is a team we love playing for.”
Moran was certainly upset following the season-ending loss, but also reflective.
“I am satisfied with the season we had,” Moran said. “We showed up all the time and played hard. I am happy every player showed what they had.
“We have known each other for a long time. That helps. I think it is a big reason we did so well. We are so close.”
Being so close is what this team thrived on all year. Unfortunately, in the season finale, close was not enough.
Hall ends WH season with 3-0 decision
By MIKE MADERA
(November 3, 2014) - Hall coach Jim Holt had one thing in mind when he took over the team over a year ago. Holt was determined to get his team back to the state tournament, a place the Warriors had not been since 2008.
Holt and his 18th-seeded Warriors were not content on getting to the postseason. Using a 7-0 run to win the first game, the Warriors upset 15th-seeded West Haven 26-24, 27-25, 25-22 in the opening round of the Class LL state tournament at West Haven High Monday evening.
With the victory, the Warriors advance to the second round, where they will play at second-seeded Darien, Thursday at 6 p.m.
“It has been since 2008 since we have been in the state tournament,” Holt said after his team improved to 11-10. “We just made some changes. It has been a long time since we won a first round game.”
Alex Young dives for a loose ball in a loss to Hall in the Class LL state tournament, November 3, 2014. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Hall looked as if it would fight an uphill battle after wasting a 13-8 lead in the opening game. West Haven was on top 24-19 after a Hall error, but the Warriors got the serve back and they never looked back.
With senior Michelle Brook on the service line, Hall scored six straight points, taking advantage of two West Haven errors, a kill by Morgan Shearin and an ace by Brook to get within 25-24. Brook served out the final two points and Hall rode that emotion the rest of the match.
“That definitely turned the match around,” Holt said. “She (Brook) has been serving well all year. She did a nice job and we were able to come back.”
The loss in the opening game set the tone for the Westies and would prove to define this match for West Haven. Needing one point to close out the opening game, West Haven failed on seven straight opportunities to clinch the opener.
“I think it may have rattled us a little bit,” West Haven coach Kate Coldren said after her team finished the year 12-10. “We didn’t give them any points. They fought for every single point.”
Hall’s comeback would be repeated in the final two games. After taking a 10-3 lead on a pair of aces by Carolina Murillo-Alegria, Hall watched as West Haven inched closer on an ace by Danielle Bertolini and a kill by Taylor Lambert.
The combination of Elena Pevar and Shearin proved to be too tall and too tough for West Haven as the duo helped Hall to a 24-20 lead with a block by Shearin and kills by Pevar.
The Westies nearly returned, doing what Hall did in the first game, as the Westies went on a 4-0 run on a pair of kills by Talon Yahaya to even the game at 24.
With Hall up 25-24, West Haven again tied the game, but two West Haven errors, including a net serve, allowed the Warriors to escape with a 27-25 victory in the middle game.
Talon Yahaya with a kill in a loss to Hall in the Class LL state tournament, November 3, 2014. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
"We definitely had a couple of mental mistakes tonight,” Coldren said. “Honestly, we only had six or seven service errors tonight. That is not bad. It was just bad timing.”
The third game was much of the same for both teams. Hall jumped out to an early lead, West Haven rallied to take a 21-20 lead, and Hall closed the game out strong on a 5-1 run.
The Warriors used a pair of aces by Kim Yen Kha to take a 7-3 lead, but a pair of aces by West Haven’s Kayley Carr got West Haven within 9-6.
Kayley Carr (l.) and Rania Abu-Sitteh (r.) played solid defense in a loss to Hall in the Class LL state tournament, November 3, 2014. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Each time the Westies got even, Hall had an answer in the final game. A kill by West Haven’s Alissa Tonucci to even the game at 10 was met by a kill by Hall’s Shearin.
The Warriors increased the margin to 18-12 on a kill by Pevar, but three straight kills by Yahaya evened the game at 20. Hall took control once and for all in the final game as kills by Nina Mirontchik and Shearin sandwiched an ace by Brook to get Hall within two points of advancing to the second round.
Shearin made sure the Warriors traveled further down I-95 when she closed the match with two straight blocks to send the Warriors to the second round.
“We have played really good defense all year,” Holt said. “We picked our defense up. We needed our defense to step up tonight and it did.”
Pevar and Shearin each had nine kills for Hall, with Pevar adding nine service points. West Haven was led by Bertolini with 25 digs and 5 kills. Carr added 14 digs and 6 kills, and Yahaya finished with 11 kills.
Westies ousted from SCC Tournament
WH falls to Hand in SCC first round
By MIKE MADERA
(October 25, 2014) - West Haven volleyball coach Kate Coldren had to be concerned with how her team was playing heading into the postseason. Those concerns came to light Saturday afternoon in Madison as the tenth-seeded Westies fell to seventh-seeded Hand, 3-0, in the opening round of the Southern Connecticut Conference tournament.
The 25-20, 25-15, 25-23 loss at the hands of the Tigers sent West Haven to its fifth defeat in its last seven matches with the state tournament coming up next.
"We got off to a slow start," Coldren said. "When we were passing, we weren't putting the ball away. When our hitters were on, the passing wasn't there. When we put it all together, it was a game. Unfortunately, two games had already gotten away from us."
Talon Yahaya led the West Haven offense with 11 kills. Defensively, the Westies were led by Danielle Bertolini with 19 digs and Rania Abu-Sitteh with 12 digs. Devin Pascale had 14 assists, Kayley Carr added six blocks and five digs, and Blair Ludoviconi had six digs and three aces.
"Defensively, the girls stepped up and did a great job," Coldren said. "Rania (Abu-Sitteh), Blair (Ludoviconi), Danielle (Bertolini) and Alex (Young) had a good game in the back row. They worked together and covered each other very well. This is something they need to keep doing when we begin the state tournament. Talon (Yahaya) and Kayley (Carr) did well at the net. Even though they couldn't get into a steady rhythm, they started blocking and making adjustments to the sets and put the ball down."
Westies fall to Trojans
Lyman Hall sends WH to fourth defeat in six matches
By MIKE MADERA
(October 23, 2014) - The West Haven volleyball team picked the wrong time of year to go into a slump. Heading into the Southern Connecticut Conference and state tournaments, the Westies are not at their peak.
Rania Abu-Sitteh dives for a loose ball in an earlier season contest. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
West Haven (12-8) dropped its third match in four contests and fourth out of its last six with a 3-0 loss to Lyman Hall Thursday evening in Wallingford. West Haven, which is the tenth seed in this weekend's SCC tournament, will travel to play No. 7 Hand in the opening round on Saturday, looking to right the ship.
"We weren't able to get our offense going because our passing was inconsistent," West Haven coach Kate Coldren said. "Lyman Hall had some very tough servers and we couldn't get into a rhythm. With the postseason starting Saturday, we have to do some tweaking and get back on track so we can perform well against Hand."
Talon Yahaya led the Westies with six kills, two digs and one block. Sarah Dunham added seven digs, six assists and two kills, while Kayley Carr had three digs, two blocks, two kills, an ace and an assist.
Alex Young had five digs, Rania Abu-Sitteh added four digs, and Jill Moran and Alissa Tonucci each had three digs in the loss.
Westies blank Panthers
WH defeats Platt Tech to improve to 12-7
By MIKE MADERA
(October 21, 2014) - The West Haven volleyball team got back on the winning track Tuesday evening with a 3-0 victory over Platt Tech in Milford. West Haven's 25-8, 25-8, 25-6 victory over the Panthers helped the Westies improve to 12-7.
"It was a complete team effort," West Haven coach Kate Coldren said. "The girls played confident and consistent volleyball tonight. Serving was key tonight. We only had two service errors and a total of 35 aces. Everyone on the team played their role and we came up with the win. Hopefully, we'll carry that into the Lyman Hall game on Thursday."
The Westies made life easier for themselves with 47% of their points coming at the service line, with 35 aces.
After two consecutive heart-breaking losses to Sacred Heart Academy and Lauralton Hall, the Westies came out ready to go on the road. West Haven never let the Panthers into the match and was able to get plenty of varsity minutes for everyone throughout the lineup.
Kayley Carr led the way in the easy victory with 22 aces and two kills, while Sarah Dunham had 12 assists and a pair of aces.
Kayley Carr, seen here on Senior Night, led West Haven with 22 aces against Platt Tech, October 21, 2014. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Talon Yahaya added five aces and five kills, while AnnLyssa Asare had six aces. Danielle Bertolini led the defensive effort with four digs.
Lauralton sneaks past Westies
WH suffers tough 3-2 loss
By MATT CILBRITH
(October 20, 2014) - With the SCC tournament starting Saturday, the West Haven Blue Devils volleyball team had its first of three games to end the season against Lauralton Hall on Monday. There was a struggle to get a rhythm going in this match as West Haven lost the first game 25-23.
The Blue Devils went on to win the next two games by a score of 25-14 each, but were unable to close out the match, losing the final two games to the Crusaders 25-14 and 15-10.
“We didn’t play consistent volleyball,” said West Haven coach Kate Coldren.
“When we had them on the ropes, we couldn’t finish them off.”
Despite the efforts of Alex Young (21), Blair Ludoviconi (c.) and Danielle Bertolini (r.), seen here in an earlier photo from this season, West Haven could not hang on in a loss to Lauralton Hall, October 20, 2014. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
West Haven suffered a similar loss to Sacred Heart Academy just last Wednesday. After having a 2-0 lead over Sacred Heart, the Pacers came back and defeated the Blue Devils 3-2, very similar to what the Crusaders did Monday night.
“After losing a game like this to Sacred Heart Academy last week, we need to work on finishing games, something we have worked on all year,” said Westie captain Danielle Bertolini, who had ten digs and four kills in the match.
After dropping the first game to Lauralton in a game that could have gone either way, the Westies bounced back with two solid 25-14 wins in the second and third games. The Blue Devils took an early lead in the second game, up 7-2, and held the lead the entire game.
The third game was won by the Westies with big help from senior Talon Yahaya, who led the team in kills for the match with 11. Yahaya tallied three kills out of West Haven's four consecutive points to get the Blue Devils a 10-4 lead early in the third, and Yahaya would have seven kills in that game.
“In the third and fourth game, we were just setting blocks better, hitting harder, and making less hitting errors,” said senior Kayley Carr who contributed five kills in the game. “We just played cleaner volleyball.”
By the fourth game, the Blue Devils had the momentum from the two wins after dropping the first. But, the Crusaders weren’t going to just give the Blue Devils an easy win on their final home game of the season.
Senior Haley Congdon led her team with 12 kills in the match, and she had four of those in the fourth game. This game looked much like the first, neither team able to string together points early on with the lead changing back and forth.
“After the second game, I thought we really had the momentum,” said Bertolini. “But, in the fourth game, we lost our energy and we couldn’t get it back.”
Coldren and the players have said in the past that this Blue Devil team struggles to gain momentum after they drop a game or two. That happened against the Crusaders again Monday night. Lauralton closed out the fourth game, 25-14, and in the fifth and final game, the Lauralton crowd was very loud cheering on the home team.
With the game even at three, the Crusaders got two aces from senior Alexandra Moleski, and two kills to take a 7-3 lead.
West Haven clawed its way back into this final game. With the game at 13-9 in favor of Lauralton, West Haven senior Cassidy Allen made a diving stab at the ball to keep it alive, then Alex Young dove and got the ball over the net to keep the play alive and allowed West Haven to regain the serve.
Unfortunately for the Westies, Lauralton won the serve right back and sophomore Nicole Zacarro closed out the match with an ace, winning the game 15-10.
“We were a little hesitant on defense tonight,” said Coldren. “I don’t know if they didn’t have the confidence, but our record is good (now 11-7) and that should give them confidence”
The Blue Devils get right back to it Tuesday night as they come back to Milford to play Platt Tech at 5:15 p.m.
“We need to go home and clear our heads,” said Carr. “We need to come back better against Platt tomorrow and focus on working together as a team. Put all of our personal stuff aside.”
Just two games and a few practices remain this week before the Westies start their run to what they hope is a title on Saturday in the SCC tournament.
“Communication, mental toughness, and getting the offense in a rhythm early, not taking a game to get it,” said Coldren talking about what she wanted to see from the team before the playoffs.
SHA stuns Westies
Pacers rally to defeat West Haven, 3-2
By MATT CILBRITH
(October 15, 2014) - For the second time this season, the Sacred Heart Pacers were able to come from behind and beat the West Haven Blue Devils. This time, it was a 3-2 win for Sacred Heart Wednesday night in Hamden.
After the Westies won the first two games 25-15 and 25-22, the Pacers rallied to win the final three, 25-16, 25-15, and 15-10.
Danielle Bertolini, seen here on Senior Night, had 16 digs in a loss to Sacred Heart Academy, October 15, 2014. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
"I don’t think it is anything about playing this team specifically,” said West Haven coach Kate Coldren. “I think we just got comfortable with our lead. We couldn’t match their intensity. I give them a lot of credit to come back and win the last three games. We have done it this season so I know how hard that is.”
In the pivotal third game, Maryanne Bowman made sure the Pacers were going to win the game and stay alive in the match.
Bowman came up with five kills in the third game which Sacred Heart led just about the entire game. She even finished the game out, coming up with a monster kill for the Pacers to win the third game 25-16.
“After the second game, I think we just lost a lot of energy and couldn’t get it back,” said Westie captain Danielle Bertolini, who led the team with 16 digs.
The Pacers were able to run away with the fourth game as well. Bowman led her team again, getting a kill to regain the serve for the Pacers with the score 21-15.
Bowman then had two blocks on the final two points of the game, helping Sacred Heart win 25-15 and tie the match a two games apiece.
The intensity in the gymnasium at Sacred Heart Academy was through the roof for the fifth and final game. Both teams came out battling, the Westies had a 5-2 lead and were getting their feet back underneath them after losing two games.
The Pacers worked their way back to tie the game at eight with another kill from the senior Bowman. That kill energized her team to go on and close out the come-from-behind win, 15-10.
“They build a lot of energy and intensity, which we let get to us,” said senior Kayley Carr who finished with ten kills and 6 digs for the Blue Devils. “We started to make some unforced errors and we didn’t have enough energy.”
The Pacers made it tough for the Blue Devils even in the games they lost. The first game of the match was very close up to the point where the teams were tied at 14.
Talon Yahaya came up with a kill to regain the serve for West Haven, and from there, with Bertolini serving, the Westies went on to win 10 straight points. On that run, Bertolini had three aces and Yahaya notched three consecutive kills, leading West Haven to win the first game, 25-15. Yahaya would finish with a team-high of 14 kills against Sacred Heart.
“I think we weren’t able to continue stepping up as the game went on, and SHA did,” said coach Coldren. “We got a little comfortable and made some silly mistakes that came back to bite us.”
With just a few games remaining in the regular season for the Blue Devils and the team already being guaranteed a spot into the playoffs, Westies are looking to put this loss behind them.
“In our final three games, we want to win as many as we can,” said Bertolini. “That’s our main goal. We want to finish with the best record we can to get home court advantage and prepare for playoffs.”
Coldren said this game is just a bump in the road for the Blue Devils as they look to grow before the playoff tournament begins.
“I’ve seen more consistent play out of them which is good,” said Coldren. “We are definitely improving. We have a lot more fight and intensity.”
The Blue Devils will take the weekend off before getting back to work looking for a bounce-back win as they travel to Milford to take on the Lauralton Hall Crusaders Monday afternoon.
Seniors cap home season in style with win over Hamden
By MATT CILBRITH
(October 14, 2014) - Senior night lived up to its name in West Haven as the Blue Devils’ nine seniors dominated and led the team to a 3-0 victory over the Hamden Green Dragons Tuesday night. With the gymnasium plastered with signs and blue and white ribbon for the seniors, the Westies made sure to get a victory in front of their friends and families, winning in straight games, 25-16, 25-18, and 25-22.
West Haven seniors on Senior Night against Hamden, October 14, 2014. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
"It’s sad that this is our last home game, but hopefully we will get another one in the playoffs,” said senior captain Danielle Bertolini, who had a team-high 10 digs in the game. “We have truly grown together as a group and I love these girls to death.”
Every senior played in the game for the Westies and they all contributed to the win. Coach Kate Coldren said the team has developed great chemistry playing together so long.
“They are great leaders,” Coldren said talking about her seniors, “They get along, they talk, and they play off each other very well.”
The Westie seniors combined for 23 of the team’s 25 kills. The offense was led by Kayley Carr and Talon Yahaya who had eight kills each.
"It was our last home game and we really wanted to have a kill on every point, every time,” said Yahaya.
West Haven had a balanced approach all match, playing well on offense and defense. They never let the Green Dragons get going and never lost the lead in all three games once they were ahead.
In the first game, Hamden kept it close early with the game at 10-7 in favor of West Haven. From there, the Westies went on a 7-1 run and never looked back. Yahaya had three kills in that game and served out the final two points, including an ace, ending it 25-16.
“They played relaxed, but they weren’t lazy,” said coach Coldren. “They did their job and played well.”
The second game was very similar. The Blue Devils led the game 10-6, then went on a run which included three kills and a block from Carr, putting them up 20-11. Carr would add another kill in that game to close it out 25-18.
West Haven, led by seniors Danielle Bertolini (18) and Alex Young (21), celebrate a point against Hamden, October 14, 2014. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
"After our last loss to Mercy, we wanted to use that fire to beat Hamden,” said Bertolini. “We definitely did the job tonight.”
In the final game, Hamden made it close at the end. The Green Dragons were down five at one point of the game, but came back within one with the score 21-20 in favor of the Blue Devils.
The Green Dragons were working to send it to a fourth game, but West Haven wouldn’t have that as the Westies closed the game out 25-22.
Sarah Dunham (5) and Jill Moran (3) against Hamden, October 14, 2014. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
With four away games remaining and the Blue Devils already punching their ticket into the playoffs, Coldren said the team still has something to work for.
“We are definitely looking forward to playing in the playoffs, but we want to get as many wins as we can in these last four games to try and lock down home court advantage,” said Coldren.
West Haven won’t have much time to rest as it will start its stretch of four road games Wednesday night against Sacred Heart Academy.
Westies fall to Mercy
Tigers battle past West Haven, 3-1
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (October 13, 2014) - Shy Williams considers herself a leader of the Mercy volleyball team. The senior captain showed why Monday evening in West Haven.
In a match which saw several lead and momentum changes, Williams seemed to always have an answer to stop the Westies as Mercy defeated West Haven 25-22, 22-25, 25-19 and 25-13 in a Southern Connecticut Conference Quinnipiac Division contest at West Haven High.
Williams was dominant on both sides of the court as she led the Mercy offense with 14 kills and played just as well on defense with 12 digs.
“This was a Quinnipiac Division match and we worked hard for every point tonight,” Williams said after her team improved to 11-3. “I am so proud of this team.”
Williams showed she would be a key player early in the match as the Westies roared back to even the first game at 21 on a kill by Blair Ludoviconi. After Talon Yahaya evened the game at 22 for the Westies, Williams took over.
The senior gave Mercy a one-point lead with a kill, then added another kill for a 24-22 advantage as Mercy won the opening game.
“Shy was very aggressive,” acting Mercy coach Matt Warner said. “She made some wise decisions with the ball. West Haven is a tremendous team. They were different from the first time we played them. The intensity level was higher. We were just able to pull away in that fourth game.”
Mercy looked as if it would take a 2-0 lead in games as the Tigers took a 20-13 lead on another kill by Williams in the second game. The Westies chipped away, started by an ace by Kayley Carr and a kill by Yahaya to get within five points.
Trailing 21-17, West Haven rode the play of Ludoviconi, who served six straight points to give West Haven a 23-21 lead. Included in that run were three kills by Yahaya as West Haven took the second game.
"We came out ready to play tonight,” West Haven coach Kate Coldren said. “I was happy. We worked hard. We knew it was not going to be easy.”
The Tigers took over the match in the third game. With West Haven leading 18-17, Mercy closed the game on an 8-1 run.
Amy Boyle started the rally with a kill, before three West Haven errors and kills by Casey Nelson and Meghan Fusco had Mercy on top, 23-19. Nelson finished the game with another kill, putting all the momentum on Mercy’s side of the court.
“We worked as a team,” Williams said. “We knew the pressure was on. We had to be smart and capitalize on every point they gave us.”
The Westies jumped out to a 9-6 lead in the fourth game on an ace by Sarah Dunham, two kills by Yahaya and another by Carr, but Mercy had an answer, closing on a 19-4 run.
Three kills by Nelson started the rally, before Williams added a pair of kills and Maddie Kumm had a pair of aces to take a 21-14 lead.
Caralyn Cianciolo and Willians added kills for a 21-13 lead, before Fusco ended the match with another kill.
“This match gives us confidence moving forward,” West Haven captain Danielle Bertolini said. “When we played them the first time earlier in the season, they blew us out. We kept it close and worked hard the whole way through.”
Kumm ran the Mercy offense with 27 assists and 14 digs and Fran Basadonna had 16 digs.
Bertolini led the Westies with 18 digs, Carr had 11 digs and six kills, and Yahaya finished with eight kills, five blocks and four digs.
Back on Track
Westies top Cross to improve to 10-4
By MIKE MADERA
(October 10, 2014) - After a small bump in the road with a loss to Hand a day earlier, the West Haven volleyball team got back on track Friday evening against Wilbur Cross. Paced by the play of Sarah Dunham, Danielle Bertolini, Kayley Carr and Amanda DiLeonardo, West Haven rebounded from a slow start to defeat the Governors 14-25, 25-22, 25-16 and 25-16 in New Haven.
"The girls played well tonight," West Haven coach Kate Cooldren said after her team improved to 10-4. "Even after a rocky start, they pulled it together and earned the win. It was an extremely long week for them and they really had to work hard to maintain their focus.
"Kayley (Carr) played awesome tonight all the way around the court. She had some great digs in the back row and some great kills when we needed them. Sarah had a very consistent game and kept the team together."
Kayley Carr (1), Jill Moran (3), Sarah Dunham (5) and Danielle Bertolini, seen here in an earlier season contest, led the way in a win against Wilbur Cross, October 10, 2014. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
The Westies were balanced throughout the night as they received a solid effort from everyone on the floor.
As has been the case, Dunham ran the offense with 14 assists, while also adding four aces and three kills on offense and nine digs on defense.
Carr had a big game with 11 kills and four aces on offense, and nine digs and two blocks on defense.
West Haven stumbled out of the gate, dropping the first game by 11 points, before getting into a groove. After a battle in the second game of a three-point win, the Westies pulled away in the final two games to win by nine points in each game.
"There are definitely some things we need to work on as the regular season is coming to an end and we get ready for the postseason," Coldren said. "We have another tough week coming up and the team needs to get mentally prepared for it."
West Haven's defense came up big in the game as DiLeonardo and Bertolini each had seven digs, Jill Moran and Alex Young each had five digs and Rania Abu-Sitteh added four digs.
Tigers blank Westies, 3-0
By MATT CILBRITH
WEST HAVEN (October 9, 2014) - Playing its third game of the week, the West Haven volleyball team lost in straight games to the Daniel Hand Tigers, 3-0 Thursday evening.
The Blue Devils won their first two matches of the week against Jonathan Law and Wilbur Cross, before playing the Tigers in West Haven. West Haven has another game Friday night, playing Wilbur Cross again.
“The schedule has been hard this week, and it has been tough on the girls,” said West Haven coach Kate Coldren after Hand won the games 25-23, 25-13, and 25-15.
Blair Ludoviconi and Alex Young (21), seen here against Wilbur Cross, and the Westies fell to Hand, October 9, 2014. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
With the Tigers having the upper hand throughout the match, West Haven senior captain Jill Moran continually tried to motivate the team in the huddles after each point.
“I was trying to get energy back into the team. When we get down, we have a hard time getting the energy back,” said Moran. “That’s all I kept saying was energy, energy, energy!”
The Blue Devils fell behind in the match and tried to rally late but were unsuccessful.
In the first game, the Tigers had an 18-12 lead when the Blue Devils started their comeback. Danielle Bertolini contributed two aces and Talon Yahaya had two timely blocks that helped the Westies tie the game at 19.
The Blue Devils dropped a point, but then appeared to gain it right back after an illegal hit was called against Hand. After a meeting from the referees, they overturned the call and ruled a do over on the point.
Hand then won the next four points with two explosive kills from senior Cassidy Wygonik, putting them up 24-19. The Tigers went on to close out the game 25-23.
“Hand had some amazing hitters tonight,” said Bertolini. “I thought we were good on getting back-to-back hits on defense, but some were better than others and we can definitely work on that.”
In the second game, the Westies were unable to bounce back as the Tigers jumped all over the Blue Devils, going up 16-4.
“We make one mistake and we get down,” said Moran as the Blue Devils lost the second game 25-13. “We have to learn that making a mistake is okay. Volleyball is a mental game, and we need to have good communication and the right mentality to come back together when we are down.”
In the third game, West Haven remained close early as the score was tied at nine. The Tigers came back with their strong offense, going on a 14-2 run, giving them a 23-11 lead, eventually winning 25-15 and the match three games to none.
Wygonik led the Tigers with nine kills on the night, and Yahaya led the Westies with four kills, four blocks and three aces.
Bertolini added seven digs, Blair Ludoviconi had five digs and Kayley Carr added four blocks, four digs and three kills.
With the loss, the Blue Devils are 9-4 and are at the top of their division.
“We are still nine and four,” said Coldren. “They dwell on the losses too much, even though we are still in a good spot.”
West Haven's Kayley Carr with the kill against Hamden, October 14, 2014. Video courtesy of Matt Cilbrith. Double click to see video full screen.
West Haven's defense leads to a point against Sacred Heart Academy, October 15, 2014. Video courtesy of Matt Cilbrith. Double click to see full screen.
THE HOME OF WEST HAVEN SPORTS
Kayley Carr with a kill against Lauralton Hall, October 20, 2014. Video courtesy of Matt Cilbrith. Double click to see full screen.
Kayley Carr with an ace against Hand, October 9, 2014. Video courtesy of Matt Cilbrith. Double click on video to see full screen.
Talon Yahaya with a kill against Jonathan Law, September 13, 2014.
Danielle Bertolini makes a terrific save, then gets the kill against Jonathan Law, September 13, 2014.
Talon Yahaya with a kill against Hall, November 3, 2014. Double click to watch full screen.
Danielle Bertolini with a kill against Lauralton Hall, October 20, 2014. Video courtesy of Matt Cilbrith. Double click to see full screen.
Alex Young played well on defense for West Haven against Jonathan Law, September 13, 2014. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Kayley Carr with a kill against Hall, November 3, 2014. Double click to watch full screen.
Danielle Bertolini digs a shot by Platt Tech with Alex Young (21) looking on. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Blair Ludoviconi with a dig against Jonathan Law, September 13, 2014. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Talon Yahaya with a kill against Mercy, October 13, 2014. Double click video to see full screen.
Westies win third in row to improve to 9-3
By MIKE MADERA
(October 7, 2014) - The West Haven volleyball team has been playing well as of late. It came as a bit of a surprise when the Westies were thoroughly outplayed in a loss in the first game against Wilbur Cross Tuesday evening in West Haven.
As has been the case of late, the Westies regrouped and stormed back to win the next three games and the match 3-1. West Haven improved to 9-3 with the 15-25, 25-14, 25-20, 25-16 victory.
Talon Yahaya with a kill against Wilbur Cross, October 7, 2014. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
"We got off to a slow start, but we were able to put everything together and get the win," West Haven coach Kate Coldren said. "Defensively, we were on point in all four games, but, in the first game, we weren't putting the ball away on offense. When the girls finally got their offense going, the game turned around."
Sarah Dunham led the Westies with 19 assists, three aces and two kills, while also helping on defense with seven digs.
Alex Young led the defensive charges with 12 digs, Danielle Bertolini had 11 digs and
Rania Abu-Sitteh had eight digs. Kayley Carr played well all around as she had seven digs, four kills and two blocks, Bertolini added eight kills, Blair Ludoviconi had eight aces, Talon Yahaya had 11 kills and Alissa Tonucci chipped in five digs.
Alex Young with a dig against Wilbur Cross, October 7, 2014. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
"Danielle (Bertolini) had a great game," Coldren said. "She was able to finish plays and she hustled after every ball that came her way. Kayley (Carr) and Talon (Yahaya) had solid performances at the net. Even after making a few mistakes, they stayed strong and focused and made some great plays.
"All the girls served tough and consistently tonight, and that really kept us in the game."
On to the Show
Westies qualify for postseason with win over Law
By MIKE MADERA
(October 6, 2014) - There has been one goal for the West Haven volleyball team since the preseason. That goal involves playing in the postseason.
The Westies took the first of what they hope are may steps on the way to a long postseason run, qualifying for the state tournament with a 3-0 victory at Jonathan Law Monday evening.
The 25-14, 25-22, 25-18 victory helped the Westies improve to 8-3 on the season, clinching the postseason berth.
The Westies, including Blair Ludoviconi (9), Sarah Dunham (5), Amanda DiLeonardo (17) and Talon Yahaya (r.) celebrate a point earlier in the season. The Westies celebrated a bid to the postseason with a win over Law, October 6, 2014. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
"It was a great win tonight," West Haven coach Kate Coldren said. "They started off really strong in the first game. As Law made adjustments, we got a little sloppy in the second game, but the girls kept it together and got the much-needed win.
"We have a very busy week with four games, so we need to move forward and focus on the next game."
As has been the case all year long, the Westies received a total team effort. Junior Sarah Dunham ran the offense with 17 assists, five kills and four aces, while also having four digs on defense.
Talon Yahaya had 10 kills, Kayley Carr added eight kills and three aces on offense and five blocks and two digs on defense.
"Kayley (Carr) and Talon (Yahaya) once again were strong at the net," Coldren said. "They put the ball away when we needed them to and came up with some strong blocks.
"Sarah and Danielle played outstanding defense and came up with some big plays that kept the team fired up. They played like a cohesive group tonight and had a pretty solid team performance."
Danielle Bertolini also played well for the Westies, finishing with six digs, four aces and two kills. Alissa Tonucci had six digs, Rania Abu-Sitteh added four digs and Alex Young had three digs in the win.
WH on verge of postseason with win over Career
By MIKE MADERA
(October 3, 2014) - The West Haven volleyball team has had one goal on its mind this season. That goal is to play deep into the postseason.
The Westies took another step towards that goal Friday evening when they defeated Career 3-0 to improve to 7-3 on the year. Winning by scores of 25-6, 25-12 and 25-9, the Westies need just one more victory to qualify for the postseason, the first in what the Westies hope are many steps of a prolonged season.
"It was a great team effort and a great win coming off of the loss on Wednesday," West Haven coach Kate Coldren said. "Before the game, I stressed to the girls about playing our level of volleyball and they did just that. They took advantage of free balls over the net and played West Haven volleyball. I'm very proud of their resilience."
Jill Moran and the Westies are one step closer to the postseason after a win over Career. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Kayley Carr led the West Haven offense with seven aces and four kills. Sarah Dunham had eight aces and nine assists, Hannah Plain had four kills, and Talon Yahaya had three aces and three kills.
Amanda DiLeonardo led the defense with four digs, while Alex Young and Dunham each had three digs.
"Kayley (Carr), Talon (Yahaya) and Hannah (Plain) played great in the middle," Coldren said. "They dominated the net. Defensively, the girls stayed on their toes and were prepared for everything."
Westies drop decision to Lyman Hall
Trojans post 3-0 victory over West Haven
By MATT CILBRITH
WEST HAVEN (October 1, 2014) - After back-to-back wins in matches which went five games each, the West Haven volleyball team was unable rally against the Lyman Hall Trojans Wednesday night at West Haven High.
The Blue Devils started the first two games slowly, losing both to Lyman Hall. In the third game, the Westies picked up some steam, but the Trojans held them off, finishing off the match by winning in straight games, 25-22, 25-20, and 25-22.
“This is a team that needs to get into a rhythm early on, and we just weren’t able to tonight,” said West Haven coach Kate Coldren whose team’s record fell to 6-3 after the loss Wednesday.
Despite the efforts of Rania Abu-Sitteh, the Westies fell to Lyman Hall, October 1, 2014. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
After the team’s win Monday night over Lauralton Hall, Coldren said that match was the first time all year West Haven lost the first game. That night, they also lost the second before coming back to win the last three. For the second match in a row, West Haven dropped the first two games.
“What I can see is they were frazzled too early in the game and they lose focus instead of pushing each other to get better” said Coldren.
In the first game, the Blue Devils fell behind early, trailing the Trojans 8-4. The Westies made it close at the end, with senior Kayley Carr serving. West Haven scored 10 straight points to tie the game at 22, but the Trojans’ Naomi Rascati served the final two points to close out the game.
The second game was much like the first. West Haven got behind Lyman Hall 15-3, but managed to come back to within three points at a score of 21-18 in favor of the Trojans. Again, Lyman Hall finished out the game, this one with two kills from senior Kim Petit.
West Haven played good defense as they usually do, but the offense had a hard time setting up its hitters. Senior captain Blair Ludoviconi said the team will be working to fix that.
“We are going to work more in practice,” said Ludoviconi. “We need to work together and talk more.”
In the third and final game, West Haven won the first five points, but the Trojans came right back, tying the game at five.
From there the game was tight all the way. With the Blue Devils down 21-19, Carr came up with a crucial kill after a very long volley, bringing the Westies within one.
Just when it looked like the comeback kids were at it again, the Trojans stood tough and squashed the Blue Devils’ comeback hopes, winning the game 25-22, and the match 3-0.
Coach Coldren said the Blue Devils’ offense needed to be more aggressive against Lyman Hall like it was Monday night against Lauralton.
“We had too many errors, we couldn’t get the offense going, and we played decent defense, but it was too little, too late,” said Coldren.
Sarah Dunham led West Haven with 14 assists, 10 digs and six kills. Rania Abu-Sitteh and Danielle Bertolini each had nine digs, Talon Yahaya added eight kills and Carr finished with six kills and four aces.
West Haven will host Career Magnet Friday at 5:15 p.m. in its third straight home game.
On a Mission
Westies looking to leave mark on program
By MIKE MADERA
(September 30, 2014) - Expectations were high coming into this season for the West Haven volleyball team. Through eight matches, the Westies have not disappointed.
With a 6-2 record, no one on the team is satisfied with where the Westies are at. Tough losses to Sacred Heart Academy and Mercy have driven the Westies to be better.
“This team had one goal when they came in this season,” West Haven coach Kate Coldren said. “They wanted to redefine what West Haven volleyball is all about. To this team, that means winning, playing their very best volleyball in every single match, and have no regrets when the season is over. They are doing their best to keep their eye on the prize and that has helped them push through some of the tougher matches so far this season.
“I love everything about this team. They are amazing young ladies on and off the court. They impress me with their desire to win, their willingness to work their butts off every day to improve their game, and the fact that they always put the team first. To have all of these attributes on one team is rare and it shows their dedication to each other and the program.”
Returning nine seniors from last year’s postseason team, the bar was set higher this season. Qualifying for both the Southern Connecticut Conference and state tournaments was not just a goal, but an expectation.
Just eight matches into the season, the Westies have one foot in the door in qualifying for both. The first step is to qualify and the second is to win as many regular season matches as possible to get as many home contests as possible in the postseason.
“Most of the starters are seniors and they had a pretty good season last year, making it into the postseason for the first time in several years” Coldren said. “Coming into this season, the goal was to build on the success from last year and the girls have the experience to do just that. They knew they needed to start off the season strong and prove themselves in our division.”
The Westies did get that quick start, winning their first three matches and four of their first five. A disappointing loss to Mercy stopped the opening win streak at three matches, but the team rebounded with a thorough victory at Career.
The toughest loss was against Sacred Heart. Seemingly in control of the match, West Haven watched as the Pacers went on a 10-point run to turn the match and upset the Westies.
“The girls have taken both losses in stride and have learned from them and not gotten down on themselves,” Coldren said. “They have focused on what they need to work on and have taken corrections and applied them.”
The tone for this close-knit team was set early by senior captains Blair Ludoviconi, Jill Moran and Danielle Bertolini. The three cousins have been tremendous leaders on and off the court.
Danielle Bertolini with a dig for West Haven. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
"Blair, Jill and Danielle are very close and friends/cousins off the court as well,” Coldren said. “They keep everyone in line and take their captain role very seriously. They know each other very well and know how one another plays the game. The seniors, in general, are excellent leaders and lead by example in practice and in school. They know what they want to accomplish this season and they aren’t going to let anything get in their way.”
The team has many different weapons in all areas of the game. Seniors Talon Yahaya and Kayley Carr are forces up front as Yahaya has 70 kills through eight matches and Carr has 43 kills to go along with 35 digs on defense.
Talon Yahaya with a kill for West Haven. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
"Talon is a force in the middle,” Coldren said. “She has really learned this year to contain her arm swing and place the ball wherever she wants on the court. As long as she can stay consistent, she is unstoppable.
“Kayley is playing strong all the way around this year. She has worked very hard in the off season to earn her spot on this team. She has really come into her own in the middle position and plays very smart and consistent volleyball. I truly believe because she plays in the back row and stays in the game, she can get into a rhythm which is helping her a lot this season.”
Kayley Carr, seen here with Rania Abu-Sitteh (white jersey), has come up big all season for the Westies. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Bertolini is a defensive leader with 63 digs and has also served well with 29 aces. Defense is the key to this team and several players are living up to the challenge as Alex Young has 41 digs and Ludoviconi has 30 digs.
“Blair and Alex have been on point in the back row on defense and serve receive, which is extremely important when we are trying to run our offense,” Coldren said. “If the passing is off, that throws everything else off. Being able to count on them in the back row is such a relief. They recover quickly if they make a mistake and come back even stronger. They want the ball. They want to be the one making that perfect pass.
“Danielle has been very consistent all the way around. She has taken control of several matches this year with her serving and has gotten us back into games and finished games with her smart plays. Defensively, she is doing a fantastic job and has proven to be a true leader on this team.”
Alex Young, seen here with Jill Moran (3), has played excellent defense all year for West Haven. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
The Westies are balanced and that is evident on the offensive side as well. Led by the setting of junior Sarah Dunham, the offense has clicked. Dunham has 128 assists through eight matches and has run a solid offense from her setter position.
“Sarah is doing an outstanding job running our offense his year,” Coldren said of her setter. “She is smart and poised and impresses me every match with her court sense. She has also worked very hard in the off season and has come back ready to go. Her transition from the J.V. level to varsity has been seamless.”
Sarah Dunham sets up the offense for West Haven in an earlier match this season. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Heading in the right direction, the Westies are driven to go deep in the postseason. The first and expected step of qualifying is right around the corner.
WH wins second straight thriller
By MATT CILBRITH
WEST HAVEN (September 29, 2014) - A resilient effort by the West Haven volleyball team allowed it to come back from two games down to beat the Lauralton Hall Crusaders 3-2 Monday night at West Haven High. The Westies never gave up and stayed positive even when they were only seven points away from losing the match in the third game.
“They stayed fired up,” West Haven coach Kate Coldren said about the team’s comeback effort after her team rallied for a 23-25, 18-25, 25-19, 25-12, 15-10 win.
“They are experienced players and they know their capability.”
Westie senior Kayley Carr helped lead the charge in the third game of the match which swung the momentum in the Blue Devils’ favor. Carr’s effort helped the team win the final three games.
Carr had four of her team-high 13 kills in the third game and the Blue Devils scored nine points when Carr was serving, including her ace to win the third game, 25-19.
“It was all about staying positive,” said Carr. “We have been known to get really down once we start losing, but we didn’t do that tonight.”
The Crusaders took the first two games, but West Haven’s defense played well in those games, anchored by captain Danielle Bertolini, who had a team-high 19 digs.
“I think our defense held the team together when we were struggling,” said Bertolini. “We were able to hold our weight in the back row and that just allowed our offense to score.”
Coldren said the team has made it a point to improve on its defense based on their last two games.
“Everyone was in the right spots tonight,” said Coldren. “We have worked on that because in our last two matches, we have let up a little on defense. But tonight, everyone covered where they needed to cover and played their role.”
After staying alive by winning the third game, West Haven came out hot in the fourth. With Sarah Dunham serving, West Haven scored the first seven points of the game and never looked back.
Dominating the fourth game with a 25-12 win, the momentum was in the Blue Devils favor going into the fifth, which they took 15-10. Dunham also led the team with 21 assists on the night.
West Haven won its last match against Hamden, which also went to five games, and the prior match was a difficult 3-1 defeat at the hands of Sacred Heart Academy.
Carr said this win was a good one for the team’s morale.
“We were a much, much better team tonight,” said Carr. “I think the team was upset that our last game went to five against Hamden. This was a better team tonight and we were able to push through and win.”
The Blue Devils now hold a 6-2 record, which has them at the top of their division alongside the Mercy Tigers (6-1). Coldren thinks this team is ready to make a run the rest of the season.
“The team has to stay positive,” said Coldren. “We have to start strong. This is probably the first match all year that we dropped the first game. They just have to stay focused and work together. They showed what they were made of tonight.”
The Blue Devils host Lyman Hall Wednesday at 5:15 p.m.Westies nip
Thriller ends in 3-2 WH victory
By MIKE MADERA
(September 26, 2014) - West Haven volleyball coach Kate Coldren was at a loss for words following her team's last loss against Sacred Heart Academy. Having started the season in such impressive fashion with thorough victories, the Westies were stunned when a big rally by Sacred Heart led to a West Haven loss.
With no answers in the loss to the Pacers, the Westies did not want to suffer the same fate against Hamden. In a thrilling match, the Westies answered the bell, rallying for a 3-2 victory over the Green Dragons at Hamden High Friday evening to improve to 5-2.
West Haven's Blair Ludoviconi (l.) and Danielle Bertolini (r.) helped the Westies rally in a 3-2 victory over Hamden, September 26, 2014. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
"It was a must win and we got it," Coldren said. "After coming out strong in the first two games, we let up and that can no longer happen. We have some tough matches coming up and we need to keep our focus and maintain our mental toughness. As long as we stay strong and positive as a team, we will be very successful."
The Westies took the first two games 25-18 and 25-18, then watched as Hamden stormed back. The Green Dragons won the next two games, 25-21 and 25-18 to force a deciding fifth game.
Rania Abu-Sitteh (in white), seen here with a dig against Sacred Heart Academy, helped the Westies defeat Hamden, September 26, 2014. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Not wanting to see another match slip away, the Westies responded in the third game. With a strong defensive effort, West Haven won the third game, 15-6, to take the match 3-2.
Kayley Carr, seen here against Sacred Heart Academy, continued to play well in a win against Hamden, September 26, 2014. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Sarah Dunham led the way for the Westies as she ran the offense with 19 assists, while adding seven aces and three kills. Dunham also had 11 digs in the win.
"Sarah had a great game and came through for us with her smart game play and tough serving," Coldren said of Dunham.
Danielle Bertolini had nine digs and two kills, while Kayley Carr added eight kills, four digs and two aces. Rania Abu-Sitteh and Alex Young played well on defense as Abu-Sitteh had five digs and Young added four digs.
"Kayley (Carr) was strong at the net and finished the play when we needed her to," Coldren said.
Off the Pace
Westies fall to SHA
By MATT CILBRITH
WEST HAVEN (September 23, 2014) —The West Haven volleyball team was defeated on its home floor for the first time this season, losing 3-1 to Sacred Heart Academy Tuesday night. After winning the first game 25-17, West Haven had the momentum and a 20-10 lead over the Pacers.
But, with sophomore Anna Luciani serving, Sacred Heart went on a 10- point run to tie the second game at 20. The Pacers went on to win the second game and the next two by the scores of 26-24, 25-21, and 25-17.
Blair Ludoviconi with a diving dig against Sacred Heart Academy, September 23, 2014. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
"As soon as they started to lose, they lost all of their momentum,” said West Haven volleyball coach Kate Coldren said after her team fell to 4-2. “They had no energy, they weren’t making any corrections, and I really don’t know what to say.”
Coldren used two timeouts during Sacred Heart’s 10-point run in the second game, but she was not able to get the team back on track.
“I was trying to get their spirits up,” Coldren said. “I was trying to get them to cheer on each other. Sacred Heart had all the energy and all the momentum.”
The Pacers did have the momentum going into the third game, hopping out to a 10-6 lead over the Blue Devils. The Westies came back with help from senior captain Danielle Bertolini, who had a kill to tie the game at 14 and another to tie the game at 16.
West Haven was not able to overcome the Pacers, falling 25-21 in the game, and trailing two games to one in the match. By the time fourth game came around, West Haven's confidence was shaken.
“There was not a lot of talking amongst the players and they just weren’t fixing any of their mistakes,” said Coldren.
After getting the kill to end game three, Sacred Heart junior Caitlyn Keish served three aces as a part of a five-point run, giving the Pacers an 8-3 lead. After that run, the Pacers led by at least three points for the remainder of the game.
West Haven was unable to string together four or more points in a row throughout the entire game, which the Westies eventually lost, 25-17.
West Haven junior Sarah Durham had a great individual night, leading the team in digs with 13 and in assists with 24. Senior Talon Yahaya continued to show her offensive dominance this match with 16 kills.
Talon Yahaya with one of her 16 kills on the night against Sacred Heart Academy, September 23, 2014. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
After starting the season 3-0, the Blue Devils have now lost two of their last three. West Haven will try and bounce back Friday night as the team goes on the road to play rival Hamden (2-5) at 5:15 p.m.
Back on Track
Westies improve to 4-1 with win over Career
By MIKE MADERA
(September 22, 2014) - West Haven volleyball coach Kate Coldren was less than pleased with her team's effort in a loss to Mercy on Friday.
Looking to get back on the winning track, West Haven received solid play all the way around and got back in the winning column with a 3-0 victory over Career Monday evening.
With the 25-7, 25-21, 25-16 victory in New Haven, West Haven improved to 4-1 on the year.
"It was a great team win after such a tough loss on Friday," Coldren said. "The girls played calm and consistent volleyball. They didn't dwell on mistakes and made corrections quickly. We are looking forward to tomorrow night's game against Sacred Heart."
The Westies set the tone of the match early, making quick work of the Panthers in the first game. Career battled the next two games, but West Haven held on in each to post the shutout.
Kayley Carr and Talon Yahaya led the offense as Carr was solid at the service line with nine aces, while Yahaya had seven kills.
Kayley Carr, seen here earlier in the season against Jonathan Law, led West Haven against Career with nine aces and four kills. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
"Kayley was very tough at the service line and was tough at the net," Coldren said. "She had a very good all around game.
"Talon led our offensive attack with seven kills. She was very smart and consistent at the net."
Sarah Dunham also had a good day offensively as she ran the offense with 12 assists, had four aces at the service line and added three kills. Cassidy Allen had five assists, Carr had four kills and Danielle Bertolini added three kills.
Westies fall to Mercy
Tigers deal WH first loss
By MIKE MADERA
(September 19, 2014) - The West Haven volleyball team suffered its first loss of the season Friday evening in Middletown. Trailing the Tigers from the start, West Haven fell to Mercy 3-0, dropping to 3-1 on the year.
The Tigers were in control from the start, defeating West Haven 25-6 in the first game. While the Westies battled the next two games, it was not enough as they fell 25-22 and 25-21.
"We got off to a very slow start, which is totally out of character this season," West Haven coach Kate Coldren said. "The girls had a rough time recovering from that first game and continued to play extremely flat. We never really got into a rhythm and playing a team like Mercy, that can't happen. We look forward to playing them again this season."
Alex Young led West Haven with 11 digs, while Danielle Bertolini had eight digs and Blair Ludoviconi seven digs in the loss.
Alex Young, seen here earlier in the year, led West Haven with 11 digs in a loss to Mercy, September 19, 2014. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
"Danielle (Bertolini), Blair (Ludoviconi) and Alex (Young) took charge in the back row," Coldren said. "But, offensively, we never really got things going in the front row. It was just a tough loss, but we have to regroup and focus on next week's games."
Sarah Dunham ran the West Haven offense with eight assists, and also had six digs, while Kayley Carr played well on defense with six digs and two blocks. Talon Yahaya had four kills for the Westies.
Casey Nelson led Mercy, 4-1, with 10 kills.
Victory over Tigers helps Westies improve to 3-0
By MIKE MADERA
(September 15, 2014) - The focus of the West Haven volleyball teamin the preseason was to get off to a quick start. The Westies have remained true to their goal.
Despite losing their first set of the season, the Westies improved to 3-0 with a 26-24, 25-23, 19-25, 25-23 win over Daniel Hand in Madison.
Sarah Dunham (5) sets up the offense for Jill Moran (3) and Talon Yahaya (32) in a match against Jonathan Law earlier this season. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
"It was not the prettiest, but it is still a win," West Haven volleyball coach Kate Coldren said. "Communication broke down in the third game and we struggled to get back on track. We managed to make fewer mistakes and play smarter, but that needs to happen sooner."
Sarah Dunham led the Westies as she ran the offense with 20 assists. Dunham also played well defensively with four digs.
"Sarah played very well and wason point with her sets," Coldren said of Dunham.
Talon Yahaya continues to be a force up front with 12 kills and Danielle Bertolini was impressive offensively with six aces and defensively with nine digs.
"Danielle had another great serving and defensive game," Coldren said of Bertolini. "Talon and Kayley (Carr) were again a force at the net and had 19 kills between the two of them."
Talon Yahaya blocks a shot against Jonathan Law earlier in the season with Jill Moran (3) looking on. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
"As long as this team stays consistent and does their job on the court, we should continue to do well."
Kayley Carr had seven kills, five aces and five digs, Alex Young added five digs and Alissa Tonucci had four aces, two digs and two assists.
Westies shut out Law
WH opens season with 2-0 record
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (September 13, 2014) - West Haven seniors Danielle Bertolini and Talon Yahaya have very different roles on the team. Those roles combined are tough to stop.
Behind the defensive play of Bertolini and the strong offensive production of Yahaya, West Haven rolled to a 3-0 victory over Jonathan Law Saturday afternoon at West Haven High. With the 25-15, 25-22, 25-21 victory, West Haven improved to 2-0 on the year.
Talon Yahaya (c.) and Danielle Bertolini (r,) led the Westies past Law, September 13, 2014. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
"Today was a complete team effort," West Haven coach Kate Coldren said. "We made some big plays. Danielle and Talon had some big plays. That is what we expect out of our seniors and captains. They did their job today."
After winning the first game, the Westies trailed for a majority of the second game.
With Law winning 20-19 and with the serve, Bertolini came up big for West Haven as she saved a point, then ended the rally with a kill to even the game at 20.
"When crazy stuff like that happens, you have to be on your toes," Bertolini said. "That just shows how hard everyone is working. We did not let up."
Bertolini's play started a string of three consecutive points which also saw a kill by Yahaya for a 22-20 lead. A kill by West Haven's Sarah Dunham put the team on top 24-21 before Law served the final point of the game into the net.
"We are working on it at practice," Yahaya said. "Coach keeps telling us how we practice is how we are going to play in a game. We want to play hard."
The Westies jumped out to a commanding 14-7 lead in the third game, taking advantage of an ace by Bertolini, two more by Yahaya and a kill by Amanda DiLeonardo.
Law got as close as 15-14, but two kills by Yahaya extended the West Haven lead to 22-17.
"We are definitely balanced in everything," Bertolini said. "Law definitely had some really good hitters."
The Westies set the tone of the match in the first game, taking a 12-6 lead out of the gate. Yahaya had a pair of kills and a block and Bertolini had an ace in the run.
When Law got to 19-12, DiLeonardo came up with a kill, Blair Ludoviconi had an ace and Yahaya had a kill to extend the margin to 22-13.
Sarah Dunham led the offense with 15 assists, Yahaya had seven kills and three aces, Bertolini had eight digs and four aces and Alex Young and Rania Abu-Sitteh each had four digs in the win.
Westies defeat Platt Tech in season opener
By MIKE MADERA
(September 11, 2014) - The West Haven volleyball team was looking to start the season with some momentum. Hoping to get out of the gates quickly, the Westies did not disappoint.
Behind the play of senior Kayley Carr and senior captain Danielle Bertolini, West Haven defeated Platt Tech 3-0 in the season opener for the Westies Thursday evening at West Haven High.
Kayley Carr (1) blocks a shot against Platt Tech, September 11, 2014. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
West Haven was in control from start to finish and cruised to the 25-16, 25-14, 25-18 victory over the Panthers.
"A win is always a great way to start the season," West Haven coach Kate Coldren said. "It was a complete team effort. There are definitely still some things that need to be worked on. Communication is the big one."
Carr was solid in all phases of the game, particularly at the net where she came up with some big blocks. The West Haven senior had two blocks in the contest and also added four aces and five kills.
Bertolini, a defensive force, also played well from the service line as she finished the match with nine aces.
Sarah Dunham played well for the Westies as the junior had nine assists, three aces, three kills and one block. Cassidy Allen also ran the offense with seven assists, Talon Yahaya had four kills and Ashley Dalton, Julia Bothwell and Jill Moran all had two kills apiece as Coldren was able to play 14 different players.
"Kayley (Carr) and Sarah (Dunham) both had very good all around games," Coldren said. "Danielle (Bertolini) took over the third game with her serve, serving eight points in a row and putting us within two points of taking the match.
"The seniors showed they can lead the team and the juniors showed they are a force to be reckoned with.".
Westies eager to get Started
Plenty of talent on 2014 team
By MIKE MADERA
(September 7, 2014) – One season ago, the West Haven volleyball team needed to win three out of four contests, then the final match of the regular season to qualify for the postseason. While the Westies were eliminated in both the first rounds of the Southern Connecticut Conference and state tournaments, the mold was set for the upcoming season.
Returning more than a handful of key players from last season's playoff team, including senior captains and cousins Danielle Bertolini, Jill Moran and Blair Ludoviconi, the Westies are positioned for success.
"It has been building up to now," Bertolini said. "I have a lot of confidence now and I think we can definitely use that as captains. We have gained confidence."
West Haven's 2014 captains (l. to r.) are Blair Ludoviconi, Jill Moran and Danielle Bertolini. Photo courtesy of Kate Coldren.
Along with the graduated Leah Morrissey and Sydney Mursko, Bertolini, who will play the back row and outside hitter, was a key defensive figure as she finished last season with 176 digs. Bertolini was also a key person on the service line as she was second on the team with 51 aces.
"The team as a whole can not function without defense," Bertolini said. "The first bump sets up the play. Defense is very important to the team."
Ludoviconi, who will play the back row, and Moran, a right side hitter, were also defensive stalwarts as Ludoviconi had 89 digs. This season, the trio will be counted on heavily to lead a talented group to the postseason.
"I play in the back row," Ludoviconi said. "I love it. It is big on defense. We all have to play defense.
"It is great the two other captains are my cousins. It is awesome we get to do it together."
The Westies will also look to others for a successful season. One of those players is 6-1 senior middle hitter Talon Yahaya who will be counted on to spark the offense as Yahaya had 124 kills in 2013.
Talon Yahaya, seen here with a kill last season, will play a pivotal role for the West Haven offense in 2014. File photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Also returning for the Westies are seniors Alex Young (back row), who had 108 digs last season, senior middle hitter Kayley Carr and junior setter Sarah Dunham.
"I am excited for it to be a good year," Moran said. "We have a good bunch of seniors and we have some juniors who are going to help a lot. This is a different team. I am excited."
West Haven opens the 2014 season at home, Thursday, September 11, at 5:15 p.m. against Platt Tech of Milford.
Danielle Bertolini with an ace against Hall, November 3, 2014. Double click to watch full screen.