With New Roster, Volleyball Digs Deep

When people hear “fall sports,” the first word that typically comes to mind is “football.”

But while the football team was still practicing for its first game, the girls volleyball season was already underway. Volleyball, a relatively new addition to Stratford athletics, is beginning to take off as the team grows in size and skill.

Although currently 0-4, including a 1-2 loss on Thursday to Calvary Christian School, the team is looking to improve its record this season as the many new players on the varsity roster – which includes just two returners – settle in and learn their roles on the court.

“As the girls get more experience playing together,” Coach Rachel Chabot said, the team will get better.

Juniors Heather Hayden and Ansley Edwards are the two veterans. Filling out the roster are freshmen Aysha Roberts, Sarah Kate Sellers, and Riley Grossnickle; sophomores Daniella Chrabuszcz, Isabella Gill, Jaedyn Ellis, and MacKenzie Conn; and juniors Shelby Walker, Sarah Farriba, Hannah Wilson, Mary Kathryn Hightower, Katherine Kennedy, and Mary Spivey.

“I feel honored to be a part of this team and grateful to have such a welcoming team who support and help me because I’m still new to everything,” Chrabuszcz said.

Chrabuszcz’s goals for this year include working to improve her hitting skills, and gradually working her way to starting on varsity. From hanging out together before a match to taking trips to Atlanta, Chrabuszcz said of her teammates, “Everyone treats you like family.”

Chabot, who also teaches upper school French, said the girls are extremely focused on learning and bonding together “because they are having to come together as a group that has never played before.”

One of the team’s goals for this season is to beat their biggest rival, Mount de Sales Academy, which defeated Stratford in their first meeting on Aug. 20.

“Even though Mount de Sales has been consistently better than us in the last few years, we are closing the gap and we think this is the year we can beat them,” Chabot said. She explained the main goal for this season is to win more games and advance to the state tournament by “being the kind of team that gets every ball in the air and teams get frustrated to play.”

The Eagles will have another chance to take on Mount de Sales on Sept. 28.

The team enhanced their skills over the summer by attending camp and strength training twice a week.  They started practice three weeks before the season began.