Granby Girls Volleyball team has outstanding season

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Student-athletes from all of the GMHS girls volleyball teams. Photo by Katie Krajcik

Five of the seven seniors on the varsity team—left to right: Sarah Maher (white shirt), Kylee Disabella, Emma Hansen (hitting the ball), Elizabeth Squier and Nora Metcalfe. Seniors not in photo are Maggie Thrall and manager Julia McHugh.  Photo by Cheryl Disabella

Each fall inside the Granby Memorial High School gymnasiums, the athleticism and grit of the female volleyball student-athletes are showcased. On average, 40 players span the freshman, junior varsity and varsity volleyball teams each season. The teams can be seen and heard enthusiastically practicing, competing and cheering for one another during both practices and games. The 2021 season has been no different!

The 2021’s team leadership includes senior captains setter Elizabeth Squier and senior outside hitter Emma Hansen. The Bears have a well-rounded varsity offense including senior middle Nora Metcalfe, junior right side Alyssa Rossi, sophomore middle hitter Anouk Jansen, and freshman outside hitter Jayne Hiatt. The defense is led by senior libero Sarah Maher and senior defense specialist Kylee Disabella.

On Oct. 29, the 2021 lady Bears capped off their regular season against the Canton Warriors with an overall record of 19 wins and one loss, earning the Northern Central Connecticut Conference (NCCC) championship banner for the second consecutive year. Last year, the 2020 varsity girls team performed to perfection with an impressive undefeated season of 13 wins, 39 set wins and the NCCC championship title.

The 2021 lady Bears progressed deep into the state tournament. At the conclusion of the regular season, the Bears were ranked #2 in the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC)’s Class S state tournament affording them a first round bye. On Nov. 10, the team defeated Plainfield High School in three sets in the second round of the state tournament. The Bears then beat East Hampton High School in three sets in the quarterfinals of the state tournament on Nov. 12. Granby concluded its 2021 season with a heartbreaking loss to #3 ranked Lyman Memorial High School in the semifinals of the state tournament on Nov. 16.

Numerous 2021 volleyball student-athletes have already earned season honors. The All-Conference (NCCC) players are Squier, Metcalfe, Jansen and Hiatt. The NCCC tournament players are Hansen and Maher.

The volleyball program was established in 2007 by head coach David Sprowson. Per state rules for a new sport, the volleyball program began as a club sport before entering varsity competition in 2009. In 2010, the volleyball team earned its first birth into the CIAC’s state tournament. Since then, the volleyball program won the state title in 2014 and has been the NCCC conference champions in 2014, 2016, 2020 and 2021. The current coaches are David Sprowson, Brian Liu and Molly Hammack, an alumnus of the Granby volleyball program.

In the program’s short history, two athletes (Casey Hunt and Marieke van der Mark) have been recognized as high school All-Americans, a national status. Additionally, there have been 16 athletes recognized with All-State awards and dozens of athletes honored with All-Conference (NCCC) honors. Many alumni of the volleyball program have continued their play at the collegiate level. Granby athletes span Division 1 to Division 3 schools including Marieke van der Mark who is currently playing for #6 ranked NCAA Division 1 Baylor University.

Despite the challenges presented by the global COVID-19 pandemic, the volleyball teams have persevered, with success in both 2020 and 2021. The accomplishments of the volleyball program result from the players’ and coaches’ hard work, both in season and off-season. The student-athletes have overcome obstacles they faced during the pandemic including mandatory CIAC masks requirements during practice and all games. The 2021 Granby volleyball season has certainly been a one to remember— Go Bears!