Coach Bianchine loves players, chances on repeating success

Reem Abdel-Hack is one of Shelton’s top players in the front row.

Reem Abdel-Hack is one of Shelton’s top players in the front row.

David G. Whitham / For Hearst Connecticut Media

Coach LeAnne Bianchine is a positive person.

She takes that trait with her into coaching Shelton High’s girls volleyball team, where she will begin her 21st season when the Gaelettes play Brien McMahon in their opener.

“I love coaching these girls, it’s like a family,” Bianchine said. “These girls love to play volleyball. They also love to sing, and that’s great. That’s how I am. It was right after the fourth of July when I felt it coming; I couldn’t wait for the season to begin. Same with the girls, they are motivated. They won their Connecticut Junior Summer League, beating Southington.”

And why not be excited. Shelton finished 2018 with a 15-4 record. The No. 7 seed in Class LL, they defeated Norwich Free Academy and then lost to Amity.

“Jess Foss and Elizabeth Casinelli are captains,” said Bianchine. “Jess is a high energy kid who commands the court as our setter. She is very vocal and there is no doubt she will get the job done. Elizabeth is dedicated to the game. She is so hard on herself, then gets ready and always makes the next play.”

Sara DeMarco is the team’s libero.

“Sara communicates so well with others on defense,” Bianchine said. “She calls off (the other defenders) or lets them know she is going to take it. Sara reads the other attack so well she is always where she needs to be.”

Reem Abdel-Hack is one of the top front row players.

“Reem is another player that judges her play harshly,” Bianchine said. “She took lessons, went to camp and is a much smarter hitter. Reem knows when to put it down (on a spike) or when to tip it home. Her blocking is on target.

“You have to love Clarissa Pierre. She worked hard to earn a position and is a well-balanced player that can find a way to score points.

“Kelsey Radzion is a smart volleyball player. She saw time last year with a veteran team. She is a force at the net and goes down the line with her spikes.

“Jessica Jayakar is a player you have to have on the court. She can get you points, plays well by the net, and plays great defense.

“Natalia Wilson knows her role and gets the job done.

“Sarah Overbay missed her junior year with an injury. She is back on the court, shows no fear, and hasn’t missed a beat.”

Bianchine has high hopes.

“I’m optimistic by nature,” she said. “This is the year we get make a run at it (a title). I can’t wait to get going.”

Among those players lost to graduation are Grace Boles, Emily Rentkowski, Lily Boles, Rachel Hanson, Kasidy Quiles and Julia Jacob.

2019 Schedule

Sept. 13 — at McMahon (Stamford), 4 p.m.

Sept. 14 — at Stamford, 2:30 p.m.

Sept. 18 — LAURALTON HALL, 6 p.m.

Sept. 20 — at Daniel Hand, 6:30 p.m.

Sept. 24 — SHEEHAN, 6 p.m.

Sept. 25 — at Cheshire, 6:30 p.m.

Sept. 27 — HAMDEN, 6 p.m.

Sept. 30 — at Hillhouse, 5:30 p.m.

Oct. 4 — at Jonathan Law, 5 p.m.

Oct. 7 — at Lauralton Hall, 5:30 p.m.

Oct. 9 — CHESHIRE, 6 p.m.

Oct. 11 — DANIEL HAND, 6 p.m.

Oct. 16 — at Sheehan, 5:30 p.m.

Oct. 18 — at Hamden, 5:30 p.m.

Oct. 19 — TRUMBULL, 11:30 a.m.

Oct 21 — HILLHOUSE, 6 p.m.

Oct. 25 — at Guilford, 5:30 p.m.

Oct. 28 — JONATHAN LAW, 6 p.m.

Home games in CAPS