Gaels have players in place to offset graduation losses

Alessandro Mallozzi and John Sabovik are Shelton boys volleyball captains.

Alessandro Mallozzi and John Sabovik are Shelton boys volleyball captains.

Shelton High Athletics / Contributed photo

Shelton boys’ volleyball is well stocked for success for the near and far term.

“The kids are very excited to play this season. I had 16 freshmen come out for the team, a couple of juniors and a new sophomore. I was blown away,” Shelton coach LeAnne Bianchine said. “I had to make cuts. I hate making cuts but it meant that so many kids were interested in the program. It was nice to see.”

Shelton graduated six seniors, five starters, from last year’s 12-4 squad that advanced to the SCC semifinals.

Not all is lost.

“My setter is a senior captain John Sabovik, who set JV last year. He has worked really, hard. My other captain, Alessandro Mallozzi, is my outside hitter who played last year as well,” Bianchine said. “I still have my libero, Nate Foss, so he is used to that position.”

Depth provides Bianchine with options.

She said: “Our front row hitters can play all the way around through a rotation. Because I have four hitters, I’m trying to make sure they all get equal playing time. Jase Co is a senior back row specialist. I can plug him in for them throughout a match.”

Front row provides flexibility.

“Our two senior middles are Matt Diaz and Jubei D’Amato. My juniors are Tim Hilser, Tommy Kopec and Evan Murrell,” Bianchine said. “Evan will mostly hit right side and the others are outside hitters. Tim plays middle as well. They are versatile. I can play four either outside or right. Tim can play all three, middle outside and right.”

The depth is good. Bianchine feels she can switch it up and go to the hot hand.

“Evan has a big block so he will mostly play right side, but we have a second set of hands there with Tommy. We will have a good rotation,” Bianchine said. “We are solid with serving. Our offense is good. We need to work on our blocking, closing the block.

“They are very hungry, they are excited,” she said. “After getting knocked out first round of states last year they want to stay in it longer, which I love.”

Shelton opens tomorrow with a visit to Pomperaug (5:30) and is on the road at Brookfield (4:15) Wednesday. It hosts Amity Friday at 6. Twitter: @blox354