Girls volleyball: Confessori, Neuqua Valley power past Batavia
Neuqua Valley senior outside hitter Izzy Confessori was dealt a tough blow just prior to last season.
Confessori was cut from the varsity roster due to high volumes of competitors in the program. Confessori admitted she initially was "done with volleyball overall" at the time.
It didn't stop her from taking in varsity matches as a spectator following her sophomore-level matches and supporting her friends that did make it to varsity.
"I saw how much [the team] bonded and how they have this friendship, that really, you can't find anywhere else in other sports, I feel like," Confessori said following the Wildcats' 25-19, 25-16 sweep over Batavia on Tuesday. "I just kept that in the back of my mind and was like, 'I want to be a part of that next year.' "
A season later, Confessori has roared back to become a part of the crowded mix of scoring options for the Wildcats. Confessori had three kills and an ace to supplement a balanced effort to sweep the Bulldogs (2-5).
"It was pretty hard for me [to experience being cut]," Confessori said. "I think I showed myself no matter what I want to do, I can bounce back, and if I put in my hard work, I'll be able to get what I want in the end."
"She worked her butt off, and she came to the gym, and I am ecstatic that she gets an opportunity to [be] in the game and play," Neuqua Valley coach Jamie Buhnerkemper said.
The Wildcats (2-4) built a 17-10 lead in set one, and a small surge generated by Bulldogs junior Hallie Crain's three kills powered Batavia to pull within four. After a block and a Batavia serving error to make it 19-13, the Bulldogs clawed back to inch within one after a Wildcats attack error, but Wildcats middle Emi Chiaradonna and Lara Clifford combined at the net to sail the rest of the match, 25-19.
In set two, Neuqua Valley cruised to a 19-12 advantage thanks to a barrage of kills from Lauren Mariscal (one kill and ace), Hailey Stumpf (three kills) and Clifford (three kills) to comfortably put the Bulldogs away 25-16.
"We're young to varsity. We're young with a freshman setter [Aubrey Dumstorff], but we're working hard," Buhnerkemper said. "[Lineup-wise], ever since we've had to switch stuff up last weekend, we've ran every lineup in the book.
"The nice thing is the girls are making it hard on us [to have a set one], because they're battling against each other, because they want it. We're working to find that consistency, and I think after today, we found a momentum."
Batavia, meanwhile, has only two returners back from last year's squad -- libero Teagan Rokos and setter McKenna Bremner. After graduating a do-everything player in former standout setter Amanda Otten, the Bulldogs are working their way into finding a new identity.
Crain (six kills), Bremner (12 assists, three kills), sophomore outside hitter Zoe Balzanto (six kills), senior Brooke Robertson (four kills) and Rokos (eight digs) are forging ahead.
"I'm really just pushing 'team [volleyball]'; we have a lot of people with a lot of ages coming together and supporting each other. I think that's a really big thing, and I loved tonight that we were able to do that," Batavia coach McKenna Kelsay said. "We kind of started out a little rocky, and then we were able to settle in a little more. I think that second half of the first set and the first half of second set [is evidence of that]."