Kayley Ragazzini and her Hewlett volleyball teammates have embraced the new challenges 2018 has presented.
The Bulldogs have made a seamless transition from Nassau A-III to A-II this season, going 7-3 overall and 6-3 in conference thus far, making considerable noise competing against superior competition.
“We were all for it,” said Ragazzini, an outside hitter who leads all of Nassau with 171 kills entering Tuesday, according to Newsday statistics. “We were ready to take on the competition. We knew it would be harder but we definitely put in the work.”
With Hewlett sitting in third place, even coach Jarrett Rubin said the Bulldogs have surpassed Year One expectations.
“Obviously any time you move up in a conference, it can be difficult to hang with the pack,” said Rubin. “These girls have done a great job of not only keeping up but also exceeding expectations. It’s a real testament to who they are and how they leave 100 percent on the court.”
Ragazzini touched on the noticeable difference in talent level and the added feeling of accomplishment that comes with each victory this year.
“As you move up more players are playing travel ball and playing at a higher level.” Ragazzini said. “So there’s definitely a greater sense of satisfaction that comes with winning.”
Rubin said she not only possesses exceptional talent, but also uplifts her teammates in ways that are all the more remarkable.
“Kayley’s a phenomenal player,” Rubin said. “Her talent is one that comes around only once in a while. She makes things happen on the court that I haven’t seen anyone else do in my career.
“What’s more impressive than her talent is her leadership. I haven’t seen her energy anywhere else. Even when she’s not playing well she’s picking up her teammates. She excels at almost everything she does. She’s been a leader the past three years.”
Hewlett boasts plenty of depth alongside Ragazzini. Emma Blumenstein ranks third in the county with 217 assists, while Amanda Fam is eighth with 17 blocks.
“I’ve given Emma the keys to the car this year and she’s driven it well,” Rubin said. “And Amanda is someone whose hitting has really come around to the point where she’ll be the player people are talking about.”
With the playoffs just around the corner, Ragazzini and the Bulldogs will embrace a new challenge once again.
“I think we’re really prepared for the playoffs and are really ready for the first round and moving on,” Ragazzini said. “We just want to bring our A-game and advance.”