VERONA, NJ - Coming off a State Sectional Championship it was inevitable that the Verona girls volleyball team would have to rebuild, but the journey back to the top will be an exciting one for first-year head coach Ryan Brown.
“We’re definitely going to be competitive, I’m also expecting good things from this team in the future,” said Brown.
Brown lost nearly 70% of his starters due to graduation, but he relishes the opportunity to work with a new cast of players he can mold into his own.
“We’re still young so we’re only going to get better. Anything we do is really going to get built upon so I’m really looking forward to this year and this team,” said Brown.
Senior Captain Kelly Waterman will lead Verona in 2019. Waterman will play the familiar position of setter, a spot she has donned during the team’s historical run the last few seasons. Waterman collected 73 aces and 499 assists last season during the championship campaign.
“[Waterman] has been playing varsity since she was a freshman. She’s had a great career so far and we’re looking to try and continue that,” said Brown.
Joining Waterman as a fellow captain will be senior Sloan Lawless. Lawless will play the libero position for Verona following a 29 dig season as a junior.
“Waterman and Lawless bring leadership and experience to an otherwise young and inexperienced team at the varsity level,” said Brown.
A up-and-comer to the team will be Ashley Duhaney. Duhaney expects to factor into the outside hitter position due to her impressive athleticism as a mere sophomore.
“Ashley has great athletic ability -- her athletic ability is crazy so she’s trying to make her way onto the court,” said Brown.
Junior Meghan Meehan also expects to be a big factor for the squad this year along the front line. Meehan will play the outside hitter or middle blocker position. Mary Wallace, a fellow junior will join Meehan to complement the outside unit for the Hillbillies. Senior Sofia Fiorita will also chime in as a rotational player along the net.
A number of youngsters fill out the remainder of the roster in a host of positions for the Hillbillies. Three underclassmen, which includes Patricia Rakova along with junior Sofia Kinger at the setter position will all fill out the roster of role players for Verona.
“They come in with some good club experience. They are really athletic kids and they are gaining that experience at a faster pace at the varsity level because that’s new to them, but they’ve been holding their own,” said Brown.
Currently in preparation for the 2019 season the Hillbilly squad is focusing on gameplay for the competition they will face. To date the team has scrimmaged Kinnelon and Wayne Valley in an attempt to get into game shape.
“We’ve had some really good scrimmages against some really good teams and it’s helping us a lot right now and the rest we’re figuring out at practice,” said Brown.
Verona will open their season against Mount St. Dominic Academy on September 4 looking to continue their winning tradition.
TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is an online newspaper serving the Townships of Verona and Cedar Grove. TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, and is a locally owned news organization serving the community.