New Milford volleyball sets up for postseason run

NEW MILFORD — The New Milford girls volleyball team is on the right track, but coach Tony Nocera thinks his team can be even better once it puts everything together.

The Green Wave are 7-6 on the season following a 3-0 loss, which was closer than the score indicated, Monday to Bristol Central. New Milford is just one win away from clinching a Class LL state tournament spot for the second straight season. That would be a pretty big deal for the program considering its recent history.

New Milford went 13-7 a year ago, a huge step forward for a program that won just 12 times in 2011, 2012 and 2013 combined. The Green Wave are now looking for another double-digit win season and return to the state and SWC tournaments.

“Record-wise, we are in a pretty good spot for where the program has been,” Nocera said. “I think we had six years in a row with less than four wins before I got here and we have been on a steady incline over the last couple years. Our record is good for us but not an indication of what we are.”

What the Green Wave are is a good team that is beginning to learn to finish matches. That learning process continued Monday.

Despite being swept, New Milford was in each of the three games with every one coming down to a few critical points. The Rams rallied to win 26-24 in the first game and then held off the Green Wave 25-22 and 25-21 to close out the match.

New Milford was even leading the first game 24-20, but was unable to close it out.

“We were in every game but a few service errors here and there and we lose close games,” Nocera said. “Once we eliminate those mistakes, we’ll be in great shape. Our defense was really good and when we got serves in, we were outplaying them.”

Senior Ally Helmus had nine kills for the Green Wave and fellow senior Alana Capasa was strong defensively with 12 digs. Senior Erin Farley had a strong all-around match with nine assists and five aces.

The New Milford roster has seven seniors but only two returned to the same position they played a year ago and three are getting their first significant taste of varsity action. Nocera sees the players becoming more comfortable in their new roles, something he hopes pays off down the stretch.

“I like where we are at — we could easily be 9-4, 10-3,” Nocera said. “We can play with anyone, we have shown that. If we play up to our capabilities and eliminate the mistakes, we will be fine and can make some noise in the postseason.”