When it comes to volleyball in Tompkins County, Lansing and Trumansburg are always at the top of the pack for their winning pedigrees, which have continued this season. But the most improved team in the area is Newfield by far.
The Trojans are quietly putting together an impressive campaign, currently 6-4. This is a stark contrast to a two-win 2022 season and just three wins in 2021. This turnaround has taken place under first-year head coach Ashley King, who was their assistant coach last season. King shared what has gone right for the Trojans to excel this season.
“I think we have definitely tried a lot of new things and moved some people around, and it’s just really been working for us,” King said. “I think they put in a lot of work in the offseason, and it’s really showing this year. I just think there’s been a new aspect of team unity this year. That’s really made the difference for us [in] the way they work together as a team, and the team chemistry has been really good this year.”
Another big difference is that the Trojans are a more experienced team. Of the ten players on the roster, nine are upperclassmen. King has noticed how the seniors in particular have stepped up in multiple ways.
“Coming from no seniors last year, I think we saw what we did wrong last year,” King said. “I think now that those juniors last year are seniors, they’ve really taken a leadership role and defined what needs to happen. This year, all of our captains are seniors, and so they’ve done a really good job of not only doing what they need to do to win games, but also leading the team well in that.”
One of their senior captains is Mina Thomas. The outside hitter was an IAC First Team All-Star selection last season and was also a team captain. She has carried over her excellent play from 2022 into her final year with the Trojans.
“Mina is an amazing all-around player,” King said. “She can pass well. She was a setter last year but this year she’s hitting, and I think her stats will show that hitting is where she’s supposed to be. Mina has many kills each game. She’s a leader. She’s just a smart player. She plays year-round, and it’s very obvious when you see her on the court. When she gets a perfect set, it’s game over. She will score. Mina is a huge asset to our team this year.”
Teeing Thomas up for a multitude of kills is the lone underclassman on the team, Paige Bassi. The freshman is the Trojans’ only setter, but she has thrived in her first year at the varsity level.
“Paige is one of the hardest working kids I’ve ever met,” King said. “She puts in so much time during the season and offseason. Paige is very composed during the games, and she will go for anything. She’s very composed not only as a setter, but as a server. She’s one of our strongest servers and just an all-around player. She’s going to work to get to every ball. Her sets are just always on. Paige is one of our most consistent players as a ninth grader.”
Newfield’s only losses have come to Spencer-Van Etten and Candor, the latter of which is only a few years removed from a Class D state title. The Trojans fought hard even in their losses, even winning a set against the Coyotes in their most recent meeting. King said it will only make them better heading into the postseason.
“Hopefully we scared them for sectionals a little bit, but we always end up playing really well against Candor just because they are such a by-the-book team,” King said. “I think the level of play ultimately helps us prepare for what we’re going to see in sectional play this year, so we’re hopeful to see them again.”
One of Newfield’s goals heading into the season was to qualify for the Section IV Class D tournament, which they have already achieved. While there are still a couple more regular season matches, the Trojans will look to continue building confidence and a winning culture for the rest of this season and for years to come.
“Our initial goal was to make sectionals and we did that, so our goal with the rest of our regular season games is to win those and hopefully have an option to have a home sectional game,” King said. “Because we didn’t win much last year, us fighting for a win against tough teams is just getting that endurance to continue. We’ve played very few games that have been more than three sets, and so I think we’re just going to need to start to develop that game endurance so that we can compete in the sectional tournament.”
Newfield wraps up the regular season on the road with trips to Groton on October 18 and Union Springs on October 20.