Cheshire’s Avery Mola feels something special when she steps on a volleyball court. While seeing practice and matches as an outlet in her life, she embraces the opportunity to have teammates and coaches share in her experiences.
Recently, she helped her club team make history in Las Vegas, Nevada. In the USA Volleyball Girls’ Junior National Championship, Mola played on the Husky Volleyball 16-U Tony Team that won a record five matches in the American Division from June 26 through July 5.
“It was very fun. I enjoyed the experience a lot,” said Mola. “It was amazing to contribute to the club’s strong reputation.”
Mola was excited to make her national debut, but also nervous to play against teams from around the country.
“It was intimidating on the first day and seeing some of these girls being six (feet), two (inches tall). It was crazy,” said Mola. “After I started playing, it was just volleyball.”
In 10 best two-out-of-three set matches, the Huskies beat three teams from Texas, as well as squads based in Utah and Virginia.
“It was amazing,” reflected Mola. “It was good to be put into the perspective of comparing New England to other areas of the country. I may never see these girls again, but it is nice to know that they are out there.”
Before representing the Huskies nationally this year, Mola played three or four years for Bristol Boys and Girls Club CRUSH Volleyball.
“It was a good experience,” recalled Mola. “I joined the club in middle school, so I had the advantage of playing throughout the year instead of just in the fall.”
Last December, one of her friends suggested that she attend a try out for the Husky Club.
“I’d heard a lot about them. They have quite the reputation,” said Mola. “I checked out the club and was selected to play for them.”
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, her squad didn’t officially start up until January. Mola built chemistry on the court before starting to play matches in February.
“Every year, you get new teammates,” stated Mola. “At first, it was a little scary not knowing almost everybody, but I’ve never had a closer connection than what I had on this team. We had a really good year.”
Along with making new friends, Mola also adjusted to a position change. She played middle hitter in her first two seasons at CHS, but wanted an opportunity to play on the outside this year.
“I want to play volleyball in college. I don’t really have the size to play in the middle at the next level, so my club coach allowed me to shift to the outside,” explained Mola. “At first, it was hard adjusting to the new position and rotations, but I like it because it gives me more repetitions. I also get to play all around the court and that is an experience that I was lacking as a middle hitter.”
Mola has grown up in a volleyball family. Her older sister Rachel participated for the Rams and inspired Avery to want to follow in her footsteps.
In coming to CHS in 2019, Mola saw varsity action and helped the Rams qualify for the Southern Connecticut Conference and Class LL playoffs.
“It was very surprising,” reflected Mola. “As a freshman, I never would have imagined that I would be pulled up for big matches against teams like Guilford and Shelton.”
As a sophomore last year, she exceeded her expectations by earning a starting spot in the middle. In earning All-SCC B Division honors, Mola tallied 101 kills, 26 aces, 19 digs, and 17 blocks.
To be able to play last year, the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference required that players and coaches wear face masks in their practices and matches.
“It was struggle at first to keep it on, but we had a lot of mask breaks early in the season,” recalled Mola. “Eventually, we got used to the masks and got more time in the gym.”
Mola also felt that having no spectators at the matches also made things tougher on her team.
“The crowd keeps us up as players,” explained Mola. “It was hard to not have our supporters behind us when something didn’t go right.”
Cheshire had an unbeaten season snapped in a 3-0 loss at Lyman Hall, but the Rams bounced back to sweep their last five matches and clinch the SCC B Division regular-season and tournament crowns. CHS (13-1) defeated North Haven in the title match.
“That was an amazing experience,” stated Mola. “We had a slump in the middle of the season and the Lyman Hall match was a wake up call for us. The matches weren’t about (winning on) reputation, but fighting for every win.”
Offensively, Mola enjoyed working with Sarah Holley at CHS.
“Sarah was an amazing setter. She would listen to my suggestions and set me up in the next round,” explained Mola. “Sarah is also a super nice person on and off the court.”
Holley graduated among six players last year. With the Rams building a new lineup this fall, Mola looks forward to what her junior season will hold.
“I’d look to go undefeated. My sister came close to that before,” said Mola. “I’m excited for the season.”