This year, the is led by captains Melissa Hayes, Brittany Reshotnik and Kimberly Mirto. As seniors, the girls face the additional challenge of adjusting to new coach Meghan Ruszczyk.
North Branford Patch: When did you first start playing volleyball?
Melissa Hayes: I've been playing volleyball only since my freshman year. I had never played before freshman year. It was nerve-wracking at first because I didn't really know what to do.
Kimberly Mirto: I've been playing since I was in 8th grade so this is my fifth year. At first I really didn't like the sport and I wasn't sure if I would play in high school, but when I came to the team, I realized that I actually have love for the sport and it comes naturally to me.
Brittany Reshotnik: I started playing in 8th grade. I played all throughout high school, but I got hurt last year so this is my first season back since sophomore year.
North Branford Patch: What do you love about volleyball?
Hayes: I play back row and that's might favorite thing about the sport. I love digging the ball.
Mirto: I love to hit, which is surprising because for my freshman, sophomore and junior year I was a setter. This year with the new coach, she decided to have me hit and I loved it. I wish I hit all four years because it's so much fun.
Reshotnik: I love playing with my teammates and I love the bond that I've created with them. I like how I'm always busy on the court.
North Branford Patch: What makes the girls' volleyball team different from the other teams at North Branford High School?
Hayes: This year, it's changed a lot. We're more strict. Our new coach, Meghan Ruszczyk, is on top of us more.
Mirto: What makes our team unique is that we have a lot of heart. A lot of the other teams at our school win Shorelines and are really good. Our record right now is 1-10, which isn't great, but I feel like the scores don't reflect how hard we work in practices and in the games.
Reshotnik: We're all very close. I think we all get along really well, no matter if you're a senior or a freshman. A lot of other teams are separated in to JV, varsity and freshman teams, but we practice as one big team.
North Branford Patch: Can you describe the transition of having Meghan Ruszczyk as the team's new coach?
Hayes: I was nervous at first, but I really like her. She's pushing us harder than we've ever been pushed. Our record doesn't really show it, but we've been playing a lot better.
Mirto: It was hard at first because we were all used to our coach's old ways, but it ended up for the better because she has a lot of new ideas and great ways to help the team.
Reshotnik: We weren't used to having a coach push us so hard. We have longer practice hours and we do more conditioning. Our record may not show it, but we're definitely playing harder.
North Branford Patch: Can you describe a day in the life of a captain?
Hayes: We have to lead the stretches and the laps around the gym. It's hard because we have to set a tone between friends and captains. We're also like the cheerleaders, even with the JV team, we support them.
Mirto: As captains, we have a lot of responsibilities. We stay after practice to talk to the coaches. We set an example for the younger players. Our coach started a new thing this year to show us how what one player does in practice affects the whole team. If someone has to go to the bathroom during practice, they have to take a captain with them. It shows that if we're in middle of a drill and they have to go to the bathroom, it really disrupts the whole team. We all laughed at first and thought it was stupid, but it showed us that little things can affect the whole team.
Reshotnik: We have to lead stretches and make sure everyone is on time. We always have to be there for our teammates, which means we can't get down on ourselves because that sets a bad example.
North Branford Patch: What is the most challenging part of being a captain?
Hayes: The most challenging part of being a captain is deciding when to be a friend and when to be a captain and when to come down on them for doing something wrong or when to shrug it off. It's hard because we're a close team.
Mirto: Definitely pulling out a win is the most challenging part. After last season, we lost six seniors, so we knew it would be tough to win this year. If we're up all game, we tend to get comfortable and we lose our lead and eventually lose the game. We need to work on finishing games.
Reshotnik: The way the team acts reflects on us. If they goof off and get crazy, it makes us look bad because we aren't showing them what to do.
North Branford Patch: What type of leader do you try to be for your teammates?
Hayes: I like them to respect me, but I also like to be a fun captain. I don't want to be the girl that they all dread coming to practice and seeing.
Mirto: I try to be a positive leader. I feel that people learn by example so I try to show them how to act during practice and how to act during a game. We also try to show them good sportsmanship, like rolling the ball under the net, shaking hands and saying, "Good game."
Reshotnik: I want my teammates to see me as someone who is always trying to help them and someone who is upbeat.
North Branford Patch: What are your goals for this season, for the team and for you personally?
Hayes: We want to win our Senior Night against Hyde. Another goal is to go more games with Morgan because they are a tough team. I would like to work on my serving because I don't serve right now in the rotation. I'd like to serve in a game before the end of the season.
Mirto: Our next big goal is to beat Hyde on Senior Night. For myself, I want to work on my hitting. I'd like to play volleyball as an intramural in college. I love the sport and I never want to give it up.
Reshotnik: For myself, I want to want set a good example for next year's seniors so they know how to act and know how to take care of the team. For the team, I want them to be more successful and learn from this year so they can grow to be a better team.
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