NEWINGTON - Coming into Thursday nightâ€™s matchup against Berlin, the Newington girls volleyball team knew it had already been challenged more than its opponent and one the Indians expected to win.
A big reason behind those expectations is the strength of schedule Newington had played coming into it.
The Indians have already faced four double-digit win teams in Southington (12-0), Bristol Eastern (11-1), RHAM (11-1) and Tolland (13-2).
All four are some of the top teams in the state and facing the highest level of competition is an emphasis for the Indians.
â€śEven the games I pick up from out of our conference I try picking up teams that are going to challenge us because thatâ€™s how we get better and thatâ€™s how we prepare ourselves for the tournament,â€ť Newington head coach Chris Wanner said. â€śSo thatâ€™s definitely one of the things that weâ€™re doing with our program.â€ť
Beating those programs, however, is another thing.
The Indians only won three sets combined against the four and lost in straight sets against both the Blue Knights and the Sachems.
But itâ€™s more than just the win/loss impact that matters for Newington when facing those types of opponents.
â€śWe take what they do good and try to use that in our next matches,â€ť Indians senior Alaysiah Hall said. â€śEvery time we see somebody, for example Southington, theyâ€™re really good at blocking so we focus on that aspect. We take little aspects from every team and try to build on that on our own.â€ť
The most recent of the four matches came against the Lancers on Oct. 5, a 3-1 loss for Newington, although the Indians played well.
Winning one set against the Lancers and two against Tolland are signs of a program that can be competitive with the best teams.
â€śI want them to get out of those matches the belief that they can compete with any team thatâ€™s on the other side of the net,â€ť Wanner said. â€śWeâ€™ve played some really good teams and against Bristol Eastern we played really strong.â€ť
Its most recent win against Berlin clinched a postseason berth for the Indians but they will look to use the matches against Bristol Eastern, Southington, RHAM and Tolland to their advantage.
â€śWith any team at that level, it automatically makes us a higher play,â€ť Newingtonâ€™s Azya Bass said, â€śbecause if weâ€™re not playing up with them, thereâ€™s no way weâ€™re going to be able to keep up with them. Those teams go for everything and theyâ€™re in every spot so when we see that we think that we need to go for everything and be in every spot.â€ť