The Connetquot girls volleyball team has always stressed “we” instead of “me.”
On a team with five Division I seniors, another senior going Division III and another still receiving interest, there aren’t always enough kills or digs to go around. But that doesn’t bother the Thunderbirds.
Mackenzie Cole (Duke), Nicole Migliozzi (Quinnipiac), Daniella Balsano (Quinnipiac), Mackenzie Taylor (Providence) and Cassandra Patsos (Iona) signed their national letters of intent on Monday, surrounded by teammates and family, and have put personal accolades aside to build a volleyball powerhouse.
Skyla Schoppmeyer (SUNY Purchase) didn’t need to sign because Division III only requires a verbal commitment, but she was there celebrating the accomplishments of herself and her teammates.
“It’s such an amazing opportunity to play volleyball in college,” she said. “I never thought I’d get there . . . It’s one of the best things that’s happened in my life, to have six girls with me who are my best friends and just so talented.”
Taylor Konzen, who just recently returned from a left ACL and meniscus injury she said she suffered in March, hasn’t signed, but coach Justin Hertz said she’s receiving interest. That would make seven scholarship athletes on the same team.
Because six players take the court at once, Connetquot has the luxury of having incredibly talented athletes on the bench at certain points throughout the match. Though that could sometimes be a point of contention on other teams, the Thunderbirds address it early each season.
“Nobody’s afraid of what anyone thinks, and we establish that in the beginning of the season,” Taylor said. “We don’t care who you are or what your background is, it comes down to volleyball.”
Cole, Taylor, Schoppmeyer and Balsano will be liberos at the collegiate level. Patsos and Konzen will both be hitters of some sort. Naturally, Connetquot’s defense is nearly unbreakable given the wealth of defensive-minded players on its roster.
That’s what has the Thunderbirds in contention for their second state Class AA championship in three years beginning next Saturday at the Glens Falls Civic Center. Connetquot has won three straight Long Island championships and four straight county championships, all with this core.
“They make me so much more well-rounded as an individual on and off the court,” Schoppmeyer said. “They are so supportive and so helpful.”
That all stems from their off-court friendship and “we” over “me” attitude.
Said Taylor: “I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t feel grateful or lucky to be around all these talented girls.”