Playing on a varsity team as a sophomore may seem daunting to most, but not to Ava Bianchini. The star volleyball player has made her rise to fame with the third best ace serve in the league, as recognized by the Naugatuck Valley League and MaxPreps. In addition to that, she achieved All-Copper, Woodland’s Service Star award, and two player of match awards. The accolades are well earned considering her dedication and perseverance both on the court and offseason.
“Freshman year was tough for me,” stated Bianchini. “There were a lot of things I had to improve on, and looking back on it, I attribute a majority of my mistakes to a mental game. I had to get into the right headspace, and it took CT Junior’s Travel Team to make me realize that.”
She kicked off her high school volleyball career as a JV hitter, alternating between outside, middle, and right-side. After gaining some experience on the court, she joined CT Juniors winter, spring, and summer leagues, eventually working her way up to the 17 and 18 year old division.
“[These] highly competitive travel teams taught me how to apply skills, react quickly, and above all else, communicate with my teammates,” said Bianchini.
Little did she expect to return the following year as a varsity starter.
“One of the most memorable experiences this season was making varsity. When I got my letter and was called onto the floor with varsity it was a big eye opener. It definitely boosted my confidence, and training with the seniors has taught me many valuable lessons.”
As for other memorable season highlights, Bianchini spoke about her cross court kill shot at the game against Mercy High School on November 9th, the feeling of consistently nailing her jump-float-serve, and scoring the winning point in the Class M Semi-Finals against Waterford High School on November 15th.
“It is times like these where I look back and am able to physically acknowledge how much I have grown as a player. Hitting and serving used to be a weakness, seeing that growth makes me proud and hopeful for how much I will improve in the future.”
As for the present, Bianchini has racked up a pretty impressive resume. From her achievements and several awards with CT Juniors, to her current season accomplishments, she truly is a talented and natural athlete.
“First up is my All-Copper award, which I received at the NVL tournament. I remember the feeling of my name being announced. I was instantly in disbelief,” Bianchini said. Previously, the award had gone to senior Kalle Legassey, someone Bianchini looked up to. “I felt very thankful and blessed, especially because my teammates supported me and hyped me up the entire time,” Bianchini divulged.
Her feats do not end there however, with a current standing of 130 kills, 191 digs, 72 assists, and a place under “Team Leaders” in MaxPreps for both serving aces and aces per set. “I am surprised on the assists part, but I believe in the number of kills. I made a few silly mistakes that I could have corrected, but am just happy to be able to play with everyone for the amount of sets we have had,” stated Bianchini.
The question is, what is next for this upcoming and highly anticipated athlete? Diligence. She intends to dive straight into Pure Passion, and keep up with the demanding schedule all year round. Over the summer she aims to work with fellow sophomore, Lindsay Koliani, and create a summer league for all Woodland volleyball players.
“We want people to be engaged in team bonding and playing the sport, even after our beloved seniors have moved on to college,” Bianchini went on to explain, “My goals are to keep increasing in skill and improve my leadership. I am only 15 so I still have plenty of time to develop my abilities, but now it is just a mindset of how can I help improve others, not just myself? And, how can I help other people get more involved in the sport? At the end of the day we are all playing together, so my main goal is to make sure we come together as a team.”