Norwood Volleyball Captains
By Christopher Tremblay
Over the past two seasons, the Norwood girls volleyball team has come just short of qualifying for the State Tournament, but this year the Mustangs quad-captains are more than determined not to make it three years in a row. Currently, under the guidance of Coach Paul Nimblett, the team is currently just inside the bubble to find their way into the tournament sitting as the 28th ranked team (32 will advance).
“Over the past two years we have been cut short of the tournament, so making a big push down the stretch to get there is going to be our highest priority,” senior Molly Federico said. “It is completely possible, especially since the way we’ve been playing the last few weeks. The team defiantly has the drive to get there.”
Unfortunately, the girls opened the season slowly and found themselves in a hole, but as of recently they are moving forward and feel that they are in the right space to make that charge to get back into the tournament. According to Federico, the team had a lot of new girls with some big holes to fill from last year, but they have since found their way to turn things around. At the time of this writing, the Mustangs were riding a two-game winning streak and felt they were on the top of their game.
In addition to Federico, who is primarily a right or outside hitter but can play all around, Norwood will be led by senior captain middle hitter Natalie Gale and outside hitter Kaylie (Kiki) Delamere as well as junior setter Colleen Brady. Despite Brady being a junior, all four girls basically started playing volleyball the same year.
Gale also plays softball, something she has done for a lot longer than her volleyball days, while Federico previous played softball and ice hockey for Norwood and Brady was a dancer for 10 years before she decided to step away and join a club volleyball team her sister was on. Of the four, Delamere is the only year-round player. Four years ago, she was looking for a new sport as she entered high school and found volleyball to be very interesting. She also participates in clinics during the off season.
Delamere, who is now in her second year with the varsity team, was a back row player but has developed into a hitter and now plays outside for the Mustangs.
“She is a smart player at putting the ball into play and is a great defensive asset,” Coach Nimblett said. “She plays all six rotations.
Last fall, Gale was set to be an alternate for the team, but according to the coach, she came in and beat out the other girls for the number two spot and this year she has elevated her game to be the team’s number one hitter in the middle. Nimblett went on to say that the senior currently leads the team in blocks and gives the squad a strong front-court presence. Playing in her final year, the senior would like to record more kills than she did last year (around 60).
Federico moved up to the varsity team midway through her sophomore campaign, and as a junior last fall, she logged a lot of minutes on the court. While she is a very versatile athlete, she is a good server and was previously a setter splitting time with Brady but was switched to hitter. Nimblett noted that by moving Federico, she has been able to provide the team with versatility on the right side.
With Federico moving up, Brady has claimed the setter’s position all for herself and has consistently improved her game.
“Colleen has been with us since her freshman year and although she was new at the time, she is now an experienced veteran leader who loves the game,” Nimblett said. “As our starting setter, she runs our offense and sets up the hits while she is also helping the younger girls with their skills.”
Brady, although only a junior, looks to keep the team uplifted as a captain.
“I feel that we have a more confident team this year and are connected,” the youngest captain said. “In the past, we seemed to have gotten down on ourselves when we were losing. I want to create a less stressful situation to keep things more positive and it starts with me. As a setter, I have to be able to put the ball in the right position for the hitters. If I have a bad day, it affects the whole team.”
Delamere agrees with Brady’s assessment of maintaining a positive vibe while on the court.
“As a captain, I am looking to make sure that the team is not only focused but motivated to take the court,” Delamere said. “I want the underclassmen to strive to be a future captain. We have a much younger team, but we’ve done a lot of bonding and the girls are playing to win. I want them to see how motivated we are as captains and they will want to do it themselves.”
Federico believes that being a captain is important as the younger players look up to their mentors throughout the season.
“I want to be able to give them the experience to continue on with the Norwood volleyball legacy after we’re gone,” Federico said. “I want them to have fun playing volleyball and the community that we’ve created here at Norwood.”
Gale, who has been working with Brady during the offseason to improve her timing, is looking to run some quicker sets to catch the opposition off guard. She also wants the rest of the team to realize how important it is to improve.
“I want to make sure that the team is confident in their abilities and positioning,” Gale said. “They need to be on top of their game at all times while on the court.”
With the guidance and preparation of the captains, Norwood looks set to take their game to the next level during the second half of the season and should be in prime form when they do enter the State Tournament for the first time in some years.