NUTLEY, NJ – Although the Nutley Raiders girls volleyball team already has a strong foundation, playing in a new division may not come easy, Head Coach Jenna Rubino says.
The Raiders had a successful (16-5, 13-3 SEC) season in 2016, led by five strong seniors – Sara McEnery, Jessica Robinson, Emily Luberto, Samantha Eccheveria and Melanie Chasmar. The coach did fear that the absence of these five girls would be a difficult transition, but a summer of successful practices and scrimmages proved her wrong.
“Watching them play together definitely makes me more confident that they’re going to do a good job this season,” Rubino told TAPinto Nutley. “They have been really good at communicating with one another and their defense also seems to be really strong.”
But the team’s new spot in the Super Essex Conference’s American Division will certainly be a challenge.
“The fact that we’re transitioning into the American Division is definitely going to be more difficult for us,” the coach said. “They definitely need to start getting more swings if they want to be successful against some of those competitive teams.”
Rubino anticipates that senior Emily Hewitt will be the team’s strongest player. After accumulating 44 kills, 41 digs and 26 blocks as a middle hitter during her junior season, Hewitt will be the leading outside hitter for her final year on the team.
Nutley’s first match will be against the Millburn Millers on Tuesday, September 12.
Although the Raiders beat Millburn three times last year, it was during one of their best seasons, so Rubino says they shouldn’t be overconfident about the home opener.
“But I’m definitely feeling good about it,” she said. “ I’m glad we’re starting with a home game because it should give the girls the extra confidence they need.”
The two teams will meet at Nutley High School at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday September 12.