Boys volleyball: Trumbull switching up strategy

Trumbull's Ron Rufino is a top hitter. — David G. Whitham photo
Trumbull's Ron Rufino is a top hitter. — David G. Whitham photo

For the entirety of her high school volleyball coaching career, Trumbull High’s Tamara DeBerry focused on offense to develop a winning formula.

In both her girls and boys teams, she's looked for powerful hitters, whose missiles over the net have first stunned, then frozen and eventually forced opponents to err.

This year, at least, with the boys team, it could be different.

Passing, then setting and finally hitting may be more the norm.

"I've always been an offensive-minded coach," said DeBerry, now in her eighth year at Trumbull. Prior to her arrival, she spent two seasons at Masuk, winning the 2009 Class M state title with a 3-2 victory over Farmington.

"What I have with this team is height, size, experience and skill," she said. "It's really the perfect storm. We're excited. If we're able to keep all of those things together, we should be in for a very good season."

In the teams' first two matches, 3-0 wins over Shelton and St. Joseph, DeBerry has liked what she's seen.

"We're passing the ball well, then we're setting it well and we're finishing with some powerful kills," she said. "The key with this group is they play so well as a team. Their communication is strong. There aren't any egos to worry about. Everybody wants everybody else to succeed."

Trumbull lost Chris Napolitano, Andrew Montaganesse, Daniel Folchick and John Pfohl off of its 2017 team that went 13-9 and reached the quarterfinal round of the CIAC Class L tournament.

What DeBerry has back is a contingent of six seniors, and three have started for four years.

She's also made a few changes in her line-up configuration, specifically moving Matt Yellen from his setter position up to the net.

He's joined on the front line by 6-foot-7 Rob Rufino to his right and sophomore Andrew Cutter to his left.

Running the show from the setter position is senior Andrew Menjivar.

Leading the back row are junior Maverick Grillo and Jake Yellen.

Seniors Will DeFusco and Nicholas Johnson add depth.

Damien Raptopoulos could very well be the best from the service stripe (he put together a 12-point service run during the second set in the win over St. Joe's).

Joe DeFusco, Dani Nyitrai, Dylan Palinkas and Kyle Zelinsky are working for court time.

"This is the best all-around team that I've had at Trumbull," DeBerry said. "Each kid can do a little bit of everything. If there's a year in which we can make a run, this would it be. We'll see what we can do."

If the first two matches are an indication, then Trumbull is headed in the right direction.

In it's 3-0 (25-10, 25-16, 25-12) win last week over the Cadets, Rufino and Matt Yellen both had eight kills. with Yellen adding seven digs. Cutter had six kills and a trio of digs. Menjivar had 31 assists, four kills and a block.

DeBerry may have picked up the line (perfect storm) from the title of Sebastian Junger's 2003 book about the Enola Gay, a fishing vessel out of Gloucester, Mass., which did indeed disappear when it was consumed by a convergence of two massive ocean storms. Opponents beware.