Spikers all-for-one philosophy working well

The St. Joseph High girls volleyball team was determined to make the 2014 season something special, and thus far things couldn’t be going any better for coach Jeff Babineau’s Cadets.

St. Joseph has won its first 10 matches, and while Babineau acknowledges that going forward the schedule is challenging, he likes the makeup of his squad.

“The biggest thing is that the girls realize we have no superstar that we can turn to, so every set in every match they are working together,” Babineau said. “We are sharing the ball well, and because of our passing, Ellie Dudzinski is able to set up all of our hitters.

“Ellie was our backup setter a year ago, and we asked her to work on her game and she attended camps and has improved her skills.”

St. Joseph put together a 12-8 record in 2013, good for a 12 seed in the Class M state tournament.

The Cadets lost to No. 5 Waterford High, 3-1, in the second round. Waterford lost in the semifinals to eventual champion Woodland Regional.

“Last year, we lost half of those 50-50 games, now we are finishing games strong,” Babineau said.

Maite Gritsko is team captain.

“We know now that winning isn’t a gift; you have to take it,” said Gritsko, a senior outside hitter. “We’re all after one goal and that is to do well in the postseason.”

Hitting opposite Gritsko is classmate Lauren Pitney, with junior Jackie Jozefick and sophomore Claire Condron the middle hitters.

Babineau points to his team’s maturity for its improvement.

“Because they came back ready to compete, we could add things into the overall scheme,” he said. “We’re getting better production from our middle hitters and tweaking things on offense and defense.”

Susie Vazzano is the Cadets’ libero. “She is so talented,” Babineau said of his sophomore defensive specialist. “If she’s not the best around she is right up there.

“Jenna Carrano, Meg Robertson and Ashley Sabia are in the back row. Ashley Sabia is another weakside hitter.”

St. Joseph met Darien High last night and will play host to Trumbull High today at 4.

“When I first took over, we wanted to raise the team’s expectations,” said Babineau, who is assisted by Samantha Hathaway and Gary Lynch. “The practices are harder and they are longer. The girls have found that the work is paying off.”

Gritsko agreed: “The harder we practice, the easier the games. Our communication on the court is important. Plus, our chemistry is amazing. We are as much a family as we are a team.”