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North Branford resident Ashley Redente is heading to the East Haven Alumni Association Hall of Fame for her achievements on the volleyball court with the Yellowjackets. (Photo courtesy of Ashley Redente )
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Former Yellowjackets’ volleyball star Ashley Redente is going to be inducted into the East Haven Alumni Association Hall of Fame this November. Ashley played softball and basketball for the Easties, but made her biggest impact during an exceptional four-year career on the volleyball court.
“If you ask my husband, he’ll say I’m Al Bundy, because I reminisce about old athlete days,” says Ashley, a North Branford resident. “It’s a very proud moment and something I can’t wait until my kids get older and I can show them pictures and clippings of articles. I can’t believe it was me and I accomplished something like that all those years ago.”
Ashley carved her niche as a setter with the Yellowjackets, taking over in that role on a full-time basis in her junior year. When she graduated from East Haven in 2005, Ashley held school records for assists in a match, assists in a season, career assists, aces in a season, and career aces. Her records of 785 assists in a season and 74 aces in a season still stand to this day.
“It’s kind of unbelievable to even think I would still even hold it. I never really paid attention to how many assists or how many aces I got. I just went in and did what I had to do every game,” Ashley says. “I didn’t know what any of the records were. To know I hold records or held them by working hard proves that hard work pays off. I’m very competitive, so it’s nice to beat whoever’s record I beat.”
Ashley had a competitive fire in her eyes whenever she took the floor for the Yellowjackets. Eva Esposito, who coached Ashley at East Haven, says that energy was a key to Ashley’s success.
“Ashley is very competitive, so she always brought energy and enthusiasm to practices and into games. When we decided to have her be the setter, she was really excited and worked really hard, not only during practice, but after practice. She was very dedicated to honing her skill,” says Esposito. “Ashley took on that role and wanted to make sure she gave each hitter the sets they needed. We had a wealth of good hitters and, any ball she got, she gave them something great to hit.”
Ashley started playing volleyball when she was in 8th grade. She spent a great deal of time working on her game and made giant strides throughout every season of her high school career.
“I went to setter-specific camps in the offseason. I worked with my hands a lot after practices, on weekends, and I’d stay after with coaches,” Ashley says. “I put a lot of effort into my role, so my hitters were always set up.”
In 2004, Ashley guided East Haven on a magical ride that saw the Yellowjackets make the SCC final and then claim the Class L state title by defeating Masuk in the championship. Ashley earned All-SCC Oronoque Division honors, made the All-State Team, and was also named the Most Valuable Player of the Class L state final as a senior that season.
“I remember a lot of craziness and yelling, but when you’re playing, you’re so focused on the game that you tune everything out. I remember looking into the stands thinking, ‘Wow, we can really win this.’ And we did,” says Ashley. “Once we got [the last] point, it was pure celebration. Everybody ran onto the court screaming. It was crazy. Unfortunately, nobody has it on tape.”
Ashley served as a captain for the volleyball team during her junior and senior seasons. She also captained the softball squad while playing shortstop and left field as a senior.
Ashley had a goal of getting inducted into the East Haven Hall of Fame. She feels proud that her four years of hard work has cemented her a place in Yellowjackets’ history.
“I’m very excited. I remember in high school seeing pictures up in the hallway and asking, ‘How do I get there?’ I wanted my picture there one day,” Ashley says. “I knew it would take hard work, so that’s what I did. Now, that I’m getting inducted. It’s a surreal feeling.”
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