Penfield girls volleyball shines with new coach

High School Sports

PENFIELD, N.Y. (WROC) —  The Patriots have been impressive since game one of the 2021 Fall II season. The team exuded chemistry and talent from the jump.

With one week left until sectionals, the once-beaten Penfield girls volleyball team is one of the best in Section V. Outside hitter Nicole Bell leads the large schools in 3-game matches with 19 kills. Setter Tessa Grover holds the top three spots for assists in 3-game matches with 43, 41, and 34, and aces in a 3-game match with 12.

Despite the players’ individual successes, head coach Rich Newton says they follow the team motto of “all-together” exceptionally well.

“They bought in as a team from day one,” said Newton. “I don’t think any of them would know if they were on top of a leaderboard. They just go out and do their job.”

For the eight seniors and eight other players on the team, it is the closest most have ever felt to their teammates.

“We’re super competitive in practice and games are more competitive, but I feel like we keep up the competition in practice and that helps our play,” said junior Ana Gutman. “If you don’t connect, you won’t play to your full potential.”

Connection has been huge, especially with their new coach. Newton was hired in the summer, but fits right in as a Penfield alum himself.

“We started doing zoom meetings right off the bat, and even through a computer screen it was easy to see how well they got along,” said Newton. “They made it easy, and it’s special to be home a part of it.”

The Patriots are playing for their first sectional title since 2016, which was also the last time the team won the state championship.

“Working together is our biggest thing right now and communication is huge,” said Grover. “It would mean everything. It would be the icing on the cake.”

No matter what happens during sectionals, the team feels as though it is a new era for Penfield girls volleyball. 

“We have so much talent on the team and I think Coach fits in to the program because he played here and all that,” said Bell. “I do think it is a new beginning. There’s a lot of girls coming up with a lot of talent, and hopefully that’ll mean a lot for the next generation.”

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