Two Bristol Eastern standouts, senior Aliana Rivoira and junior Jake Woznicki, share â€śAthlete of the Weekâ€ť honors for area scholastic sports.
Rivoira, the daughter of Stacy and Steve Rivoira, is a tri-captain and the setter for the Lancers and is coming off a 2017 all-conference year. Sheâ€™s an integral leader of this yearâ€™s team, which is coached by her mother.
Aliana Rivoiraâ€™s performances last week were typical for her. She dominated on Monday in a 3-0 (25-14, 25-5, 25-7) victory over visiting Rocky Hill, recording 15 aces, 29 assists and 10 digs. Three days later in a 3-0 win over visiting Middletown, the Lancer setter had eight aces, four kills, 31 assists and three digs in helping to lift the team mark to 3-1 on the season.
â€śI think her confidence has grown a lot and her leadership skills have grown and developed,â€ť coach Rivoira said. â€śI think her skills as a setter have developed. Sheâ€™s able to distribute the ball much faster in lots of different spots. She reads the ball better, her defense has gotten a lot stronger and I just think her overall game has elevated because she works hard at what she does.â€ť
Last year, the Lancers went 12-7 and lost in the second round of state tournament play. One goal this year is to get past the quarterfinals, at the very least, and give Eastern a shot for a third state title under her motherâ€™s helm.
â€śOur [ultimate] team goal is to win the states this year,â€ť Aliana Rivoira said. â€śI think we have a good chance this year. Our team is solid all around. Our team is doing very well. I think weâ€™re working together and learning from one another. Weâ€™re a team of hard workers and we all want to get better. We are all setting goals for ourselves and weâ€™re not going to stop until we reach them.â€ť
One of Rivoiraâ€™s individual goals, other than to help her team be the best it can be, is to earn All-State honors. That would give Eastern two setters in recent years with that accomplishment. Brianna Root, who went on to become a standout for Post University in Waterbury, received the accolades her senior year at Eastern in 2015.
Rivoira is unsure what she will be studying in college next year, but believes if she continues playing volleyball it will likely be at the club level.
Woznicki, the son of David and Kristin Woznicki, is a center-midfielder/forward for veteran coach Bill Sweetâ€™s boys soccer team. He returns this season after having led Eastern in goals scored in both his freshman and sophomore years.
This past Friday, Eastern blanked visiting Berlin 2-0 in overtime. Woznicki scored the first goal in OT, his third of the campaign, breaking in on goal and placing a shot against the Redcoat goalie. In the second overtime period, Woznicki took a pass from Jared Greger and gave it to Dylan Piazza, who knocked it in for the second goal.
â€śSince Jake entered as a freshman, he has brought high energy to the team,â€ť Sweet said. â€śHeâ€™s a free spirit who enjoys playing the game at any position. Heâ€™s been a midfielder or forward in the three years heâ€™s played at Eastern, as he excels at passing and scoring. His ability to find open space for himself, or open player for a penetrating pass, are two of his best attributes. One of his strongest skills is heading, as shown by his two game-winning goals last season, both coming late in the matches.â€ť
He added, â€śJake is a personable young man whose outgoing nature and enjoyment of the game sets a positive tone for practices and games. He is one of our four captains, selected by the players, this season and certainly leads by example, whether it be in conditioning or drills. He is highly motivated to improve his play and that of the team. Jake has been a starting player since game one of his freshman season.â€ť
Coming into this week, the Lancers carried a 2-2 record. Woznicki is pleased with the team. Last year, the Lancers went 5-7-4 and losses due to graduation were key players such as Tom Lombardi, Lyle Winiarski and goalie Tom Defoe.
â€śWeâ€™re playing well, weâ€™re a pretty young team,â€ť Woznicki said. â€śWeâ€™ve started to work really well since pre-season and weâ€™ve stepped it up and filled the pieces we needed to fill.â€ť
Besides being a quad-captain and a leader both on and off the field, Woznicki understands what he needs to bring onto the field.
â€śItâ€™s to lead the offense, since we have a really good defense and they can handle themselves well,â€ť Woznicki said. â€śItâ€™s to set up the set plays and just make sure everyoneâ€™s doing what they should be doing.â€ť
In addition to soccer, Woznicki also plays lacrosse for the school as an outside center midfielder.
Contact Bob Montgomery at or by calling 860-973-1808.