Pictured: The Shoreline champion Warriors, who were 0-10 against the conference’s heavies until it got down to crunch time. (Submitted photo)
By Paul Augeri
Cromwell senior Sadie Budzik is the Shoreline Conference’s volleyball MVP after a season that also saw Valley Regional become an unlikely conference champion for the first time since 1987.
“Sadie is a true leader on and off the court,” Cromwell coach Traci Capodice said earlier this season. “She does everything you ask of her on the court. She’s willing to play any position you need and helps out our younger girls tremendously.”
Budzik was the only Panthers player selected to the All-Shoreline First Team (complete lists below). Hale-Ray and Coginchaug had two first-team players each.
Valley coach Kathy Scott’s Warriors were 7-13 overall and the Shoreline tournament’s No. 6 seed. And yet they plowed through No. 3 Cromwell and No. 2 Coginchaug to reach the final.
The Warriors, who lost to Hale-Ray in five sets in early October, fell behind 2-1 in the Shoreline final before rallying in the fourth and final sets. Scott called the match her “best win” in 13 years as coach.
It also was the team’s final match of 2019. Valley’s record was not good enough to qualify for state tournament play.
“Just reflecting on things, it makes me think of all the people and all the work that has been done all these years,” Scott said. “I’ve had some good teams, and it’s been just building and building and building. You hear these kinds of things happening to people,” referring to a low seed winning a championship.
“It’s just a remarkable accomplishment for the girls to have won this title. It’s just really amazing and just special to be a part of something like this.”
Valley lost its first five matches of the season and went 0-10 against the top teams in the Shoreline – Hale-Ray, Cromwell, Coginchaug, East Hampton and H-K. In five-set matches, the Warriors were 0-5.
Until the Shoreline tournament.
“I don’t think anyone (on her team) started the season thinking we were going to win the Shoreline,” Scott said. “I feel really grateful to have been a part of this and to see the girls just keep fighting and fighting and believing and trusting each other. All of those five-setters over the course of the year, and we didn’t win any of them. And to win against Cromwell and then Coginchaug? And we had just lost to Hale-Ray in four sets on our senior night the week before.
“It’s just really, really satisfying. The girls were underdogs, and everyone cheers for underdogs.”
- First Team
- Sadie Budzik, Cromwell
- Brianna DelloIacono, Hale-Ray
- Teagan Chrzanowski, H-K
- Molly Shields, Coginchaug
- Brooke Cuthbertson, East Hampton
- Sydney Fowler, Coginchaug
- Alena Crosby, Valley Regional
- Molly Burns, Hale-Ray
- Kathy Pedersen, North Branford
- Second Team
- Maddie Cann, Old Lyme
- Meghan Doxsee, H-K
- Lena Kozik, Coginchaug
- Maddie Currier, Hale-Ray
- Kaitlin Lewkowicz, Cromwell
- Emma Counter, Valley Regional
- Charlotte Davenport, Morgan
- Jackie Yorker, East Hampton
- Rachel Gardiner, East Hampton
- Honorable Mention
- Ava Pitruzzello, Coginchaug
- Driona Statovci, Cromwell
- Angela Mercaldi, East Hampton
- Mia Carta, Hale-Ray
- Adella Biondi, H-K
- Maggie Mahoney, Morgan
- Emily Cole, North Branford
- Isabel Dean-Frazier, Old Lyme
- Ava Boyles, Valley Regional