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Junior Kayla Goodrich has been a key contributor for East Haven volleyball squad, while bouncing between different positions in the lineup throughout the past three seasons. (Photo courtesy of Kayla Goodrich )
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No matter where Kayla Goodrich is needed on the court, she always gives it her best shot as a member of the East Haven volleyball team. Kayla has played three different positions during her career with the Yellowjackets, and she’s done so with no complaints whatsoever. This season, the junior took on a role as a defensive specialist. At the end of the day, Kayla just wants to be out there competing with teammates.
“As a freshman, I hit right side. As a sophomore, I moved to setter, which helped me make the postseason team, because I had experience in both positions,” Kayla says. “This year, I learned to play defense, which helped me gain more experience in another position. This challenged me to become a better player and grow as a person. I think it helps me adapt to new situations and helped me improve as an all-around player.”
Head Coach Craig Brown likes working with versatile players like Kayla, because it gives him more options when it comes to putting his best lineup on the floor. Brown says that Kayla is always ready to do anything that helps out the Yellowjackets.
“Kayla was very open about contributing wherever she could. She’s really willing to do whatever it takes to help the team win and contribute at a high level,” says Brown. “With her athleticism and commitment, Kayla is able to help us in different spots and keep playing. She’s open to it, so we’re able to use her diversity to open opportunities for her on the court to contribute to our team.”
Kayla did a little bit of everything for East Haven this season. She finished the year with 67 digs, 32 aces, 17 kills, and 15 assists, while helping the Yellowjackets post 11 victories and qualify for SCCs and states. Kayla loves making an impact in a variety of ways for the varsity squad.
“It means a lot to me because, overall as a team, I think we play well together,” Kayla says. “Success and failure comes as a team effort, so being a part of that helped me be a part of the team and grow as an individual to get better.”
Kayla had to adjust to stepping into a defensive role this year. While she had never played that position, Kayla was able to lean on her previous varsity experience at other spots to allow for a smoother transition.
“It was very different, because my approach in the front row is different than in the back. Being a back-row hitter helped my serving, because it made my swing more consistent,” says Kayla. “Front-row hitting, there is less time and you have to pick a spot on the court. When in the back row, your approach is longer, and you can swing for any spot on the court.”
It can be difficult for any athlete to switch positions from year to year. However, Kayla feels thankful for all the skills that she’s acquired throughout her three seasons with the Easties.
“I’m able to not only benefit myself, but the team. I think having skill in both the front row and back row allows me to contribute wherever I’m needed on the court,” Kayla says. “I can pass, set, and hit. It really benefits my teammates.”
Kayla is also an outfielder on the East Haven softball squad. Being a two-sport athlete is important to Kayla, who values the relationships that she’s built with her teammates on both clubs. Kayla feels fortunate that there is a good amount of crossover between the two rosters.
“We’ve been playing together for so long that our bond has grown. It’s fun to play two sports with these girls, because it makes our bond stronger and helps us jell as a team,” says Kayla. “I think the two sports in general helped shape me into the person I am today. Each individual on both teams taught me to be a better person.”
Kayla is looking to return to the right-side hitter position for her senior volleyball season next fall. As much as she’s enjoyed her journey around the court, Kayla wants to solidify her role as a hitter in her final campaign with East Haven.
“Next year, I’m going to strive to play right side,” Kayla says. “Since I have so many different skills, I can rotate around or fill in, as well, but my main focus is right side. That’s my main goal for next year.”
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