Published November 17. 2012 4:00AM
Seniors Emily Ennis and Kayla Fobian said they were confident that the East Lyme High School volleyball team could compete for a third straight state championship.
"I never had any doubts," Fobian said. "I knew that everyone on this team had the heart to get here, and all we had to do was work hard at it."
Told that, coach Jack Biggs laughed.
"They're crazy," Biggs said. "They were writing (team goals) on the whiteboard (before the season). Their hands were shaking like crazy writing it (a state title) on the whiteboard."
Whatever the case may be, the Vikings once again find themselves in a familiar place - the Class L state final.
Fourth-seeded East Lyme will defend its title today against No. 2 Bristol Eastern at East Haven High School (4 p.m.).
The Vikings (21-3) are the two-time defending Class L champions, although many of these players weren't on the floor during last season's title game. It's for that reason that this team has had arguably had a bigger challenge getting to the final than their two predecessors. Both those teams had veteran talent.
Fobian, a member of The Day's All-Area first-team last year, and Ennis were the lone veterans this year.
"Coming in, it was a whole new ballgame for us," Biggs said. "We were missing a lot of big guns, but these girls, most of them weren't on the court (last season), but they participated. And they were a big piece as to why we had so much success last year.
"They know what it takes to get back (to a final). They know how to act like a team. They just do the little things that make a difference when you're in a Game 5 and it's 9-9."
Fobian noted that the Vikings have graduated top talent before and still continued to succeed.
"Going into my junior year, we lost Molly (Giannattasio), who was our setter and who was phenomenal," Fobian said. "You're going to lose players, but you also have these amazing players who are going to step up into these roles and do their part now as a team."
There's another noticeable difference between East Lyme 2012 and its previous two editions - it has little size, other than middle hitter Devin Perez.
"We definitely have less height this year," Fobian said. "That's the big thing, so that's something we've really had to adjust to. We've had to change our defense according to that."
Fobian has been the Vikings best and most consistent hitter. Asked how tall she was, Fobian smiled and said, "Five-foot-seven ... And that's generous."
East Lyme has had to rely on its defense, passing and guile to compensate for its lack of height.
"We have to be smart," Biggs said. "We have to pick our spots."