Johnson Earns Back-to-Back All-Conference Honors
By the end of her freshman season, Marzia Johnson was already a varsity starter for the Branford girls’ volleyball squad. Marzia continued to hone her skills through the ensuing years to become a solid player who’s garnered All-SCC honors for the Hornets in each of the past two seasons.
Marzia is leading the Branford volleyball team as a senior captain this fall. A libero, Marzia has helped the Hornets notch 15 victories thus far as they open play in states.
Marzia started playing volleyball in 7th grade at Walsh Intermediate School. She was encouraged to play by her cousins Lauren and Katie. The trio would often play volleyball at family outings and, eventually, Marzia was convinced to try out for her middle school team.
“It was fun playing with them. At family events, we would pass with each other a lot. They helped me get better and encouraged me to play,” says Marzia. “The second I started playing, I enjoyed it and was able to pick it up quickly.”
Marzia joined the Hornets as a freshman and earned her spot as a starting outside hitter for the varsity team toward the end of the season. Marzia found the transition to high school volleyball challenging at first, but with the support of her coaches and teammates, she started to find her footing on the court.
“At first, playing high school volleyball was intimidating, because I was playing with girls I didn’t know. I felt out of place, because I wasn’t amazing at volleyball,” Marzia says. “But our coaches really helped me get better, and my teammates made me feel like I belonged on the team.”
Marzia continued starting as a sophomore, but was now doing so at a new position—libero. Marzia enjoyed playing outside hitter and was originally unsure if she wanted to make the move. However, after proving a strong passer in practice and seeing how important she was to the Hornets’ offense, Marzia realized that libero was the perfect position for her.
“At first, I wasn’t so sure. I liked being a hitter. But eventually, I came to enjoy it and found I was pretty good,” says Marzia. “Being the starting libero can sometimes be nerve-wracking, because I’m the most trusted passer. But I enjoy it. It feels good to get a good pass up, so we can finish the play.”
Now a senior, Marzia has been Branford’s starting varsity libero for the last three years. Last season, she made the All-SCC Division C team on behalf of the Hornets. This year, Marzia garnered All-SCC First Team accolades for a Branford squad that has a record of 15-6, won a match in the SCC Tournament, and is now competing in the Class M State Tournament.
After not being so sure of herself in her freshman campaign, Marzia feels that switching positions opened her eyes and helped her gain a better understanding of the importance of every spot on the floor.
“As a freshman, I didn’t understand how important each position was and how needing a good pass and set for a hitter was so important to put the ball away,” Marzia says. “Switching positions changed my whole perspective on that and made me realize the importance of each position on the court.”
Marzia was named one of Branford’s captains alongside fellow seniors Peyton Giordano and Molly Martone for the 2021 season. While she didn’t know many of her current teammates when she first joined the program, Marzia loves leading those same players as a captain after having bonded with them over the years.
“I knew that, being a captain, I needed to be a leader and be there for my teammates,” says Marzia. “At first, it was hard to play with people I barely knew. But the more I played with them, the better I got to know them.”
Mike Martone is in his first season as the head coach of Branford volleyball. Martone says that Marzia is a leader both on and off the court and that the Hornets wouldn’t be seeing as much success without the senior libero’s efforts.
“Marzia is a player who is involved in every play on the floor. She is a dominant leader that plays with intensity and technical expertise. She is greatly admired by her teammates and opponents alike,” Martone says. “We would have never made it to this point in such a successful season without her as our libero and as one of our captains.”
Along with volleyball, Marzia is also a member of the Branford softball team, for which she pitches and plays shortstop. After graduation, Marzia plans to play softball in college, while pursuing a degree in marine biology.
Marzia has been making a difference for the Hornets ever since she stepped on the volleyball court as a freshman. As she closes out her time with the team, Marzia feels honored to be part a program that features so many supportive people.
“Being on the Branford volleyball team is a privilege,” says Marzia. “I am surrounded by coaches and girls who support me and want to see me succeed.”