Hernandez pg 1 10-10-19

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Paula Hernandez celebrates reaching a career milestone, her 1000th career kill, with fellow members of the Woodstock Academy volleyball team. Photo by Marc Allard.

1,000 kills
It was not what Paula Hernandez had hoped for.
The senior wanted to become the first in the history of the volleyball program at Woodstock Academy to reach 1,000 career kills at home.
But the Centaurs needed her in a close match at Norwich Free Academy last week and the needs of the team outweighed the needs of the one.
Instead, Hernandez reached the career milestone in a win at Ledyard Oct. 2.
She will still be honored on her home court.
That celebration will take place prior to the match against E. Lyme Oct. 9 at the Alumni Fieldhouse.
Hernandez didn’t have to wait long in Ledyard to reach 1,000.
That was a good thing since the anticipation had been killing her since last Monday.
That’s when she had 39 kills against Norwich Free Academy in a 3-2 win for the Centaurs.  It left her with 999 for her career.
“I was kind of sad to get 39 last game, I wasn’t expecting that. I wanted to get (her 1,000th) on Friday (against Killingly) because it was a home game. It was special, though, because I had to wait awhile to get it. I was pretty excited about it,” Hernandez said.
On the second point of the match, which the Centaurs would go on to win 3-0, Hernandez moved up from the back row to her familiar outside position, took a pass, and spiked it to the floor.
The match was stopped so that Ledyard athletic director Jim Buonocore could tell those in attendance what had just occurred and Hernandez was able to get a few pictures with her team and coach Adam Bottone.
Then, she looked behind her and saw some of the Woodstock Academy faithful who had traveled to Ledyard had unfurled a homemade banner with 1000 splayed across it to commemorate the moment.
Hernandez quickly ran up the bleachers and stood in front for an impromptu photo.
Scoring 1000 points in basketball is difficult.
Getting 1000 kills in volleyball may be even harder.
“It’s similar to that shooting guard who makes all those 3’s, can get open and make things happen. That’s exactly what Paula has done. We’ve talked about how volleyball is very much a team sport and all those other components need to be there for her to get all those kills,” Bottone said.
What may be even more astonishing, in Hernandez’s case, is that she only has played since her sophomore season for the Centaurs.
She finished with 295 kills as a sophomore and 493 as a junior.
“We still have a half-season left, those numbers are mind-blowing,” Bottone said.
There was some question as to whether she would reach the number this season since the original game plan was to put Hernandez at setter.
That was quickly abandoned in the preseason as things just weren’t working the way Bottone had hoped.
“It’s very special because from my understanding, it’s never been done before at the Academy. Even if we don’t get a state championship, I feel it’s like a legacy that I will leave when I graduate. I hope we have another person who reaches it in the future,” Hernandez said.
Bottone said if anyone does, they will have their work cut out for them as Hernandez still has a long way to go this season to add to her current total of 1,031.
Hernandez has led the Centaurs to the last two Class L state championship matches and they have come up just a little short on each occasion.
Woodstock Academy (7-4), after a slow start, is now just one win away from qualifying for the state tournament again.
Things got a little dicey in the first set against the Colonels (5-5). Woodstock Academy broke out to an early, 12-3, lead only to see the home team rally.
Ledyard tied the match at 16 and surged ahead, 23-18.
Aurissa Boardman came to the rescue.
The sophomore outside hitter had four of her 12 kills on the day to bring the Centaurs back within one, 24-23.
An ace by Sierra Bedard tied it.
The two teams exchanged points with Hernandez and Boardman getting kills and a Ledyard mishit gave the Centaurs the 28-26 first set victory.
The other two sets were much easier.
The Centaurs jumped out to an 18-3 second set lead and rolled to a 25-11 victory and held off a late charge by Ledyard to score a 25-13 win in the third.
The match also allowed Bottone to shuffle some younger players into the mix.
“I’m extremely lucky that I have a team that is understanding and know their roles. The girls who don’t play a lot usually just come into serve because I have a deep bench when it comes to serving. I look at Lexi Thompson, a freshman, getting into a varsity match and getting game experience and doing well. That’s huge,” Bottone said.
In addition to the 11 kills for Hernandez, she added 13 service points including three aces. Gabby Garbutt was also effective behind the line, getting 12 service points and three aces.
The Centaurs finished off the week with a 3-0 win over Killingly. Hernandez led the way with 21 kills as the Centaurs reeled off wins of 25-18, 25-14 and 25-8 in the three sets. Boardman added nine kills and 13 service points, including seven aces. Marissa Mayhew added 24 assists.
Marc Allard
Director of Sports Information
The Woodstock Academy


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