By John Goralski
Lou Gianacopolos had enough. The Blue Knight volleyball team was on the brink of scoring their second straight loss. Down 2-0 and trailing, 11-1, in the the third game, Gianacopolos called timeout.
He barked out strategy and went silent. For the remainder of the game, he didn’t say a word. He just fist-bumped his players during timeouts.
What were his final words?
“I didn’t want them to even worry about winning the match. I wanted them to focus on winning the point,” he said. “Let’s break it down to four increments. First, let’s visually see the ball. Then, let’s get our bodies to it to pass the ball. Then, we can worry about setting the ball. Finally, we want to see the block and make an educated attack to put the ball in their court.”
The Knights began to chip at the lead. Chris Sherwill and Alex Borofsky scored 12 kills apiece, and Borofsky had five of the team’s 17 blocks. Alex Zajda distributed 41 assists. Farmington served three times with a chance to clinch the series, but Southington battled back to tie the game, 24-24.
Nick Powell threaded one of his 10 kills between a pair of Farmington defender, and the Knights stayed alive with a 28-26 win.
“That built the momentum, and then we started to feed off that momentum,” said Gianacopolos. “We got our butterflies in motion. When you get momentum, you have to run with it.”
Defensively, the Knights rallied. David Shaughnessy collected 13 digs. Ed Klein added 12. Zajda and Sherwill collected 11 digs apiece.
Southington went on to win game four, 25-14, and never trailed in a 15-13 win in game five. After trailing 2-0, the Knights rallied for a 3-2 victory.
“This was a good win, but it was similar to our last game,” said the coach. “We gave away a lot of points that they didn’t earn. We gave it to them, and that put us in a hole. I think that, right now, the team isn’t really too sure of themselves. I think that tonight gave us a boost. Let’s believe in ourselves and move forward.”
The comeback helped Southington avoid their first back-to-back loss in two years. As the Knights approach the mid-point of the season, Gianacopolos hopes that this is a turning point.
“I hope that the boys understand what their capable of as a group,” he said. “There isn’t one of us that can do it by ourselves. It’s going to take us working as a team.”
The Farmington win came on the heels of a 3-2 road loss in Glastonbury. Once again, the Knights fell behind 2-0 before battling back. In Glastonbury, Southington lost the final game, 15-11.
Of Glastonbury’s 104 points, about 75 percent (76) came on Southington errors. Powell attacked the net 56 times for 18 kills, but it wasn’t enough. The Knights led, 9-5, in the final game before the Tomahawks tied the score, 11-11.
Zajda distributed 57 assists with nine digs. Shaugnessy added nine digs. Borofsky finished with 11 kills and six blocked shots. Sherwill (27-for-30 serving) managed to score 16 kills and 10 digs, but errors would cost them down the stretch.
Southington made a pair of blocking errors and two hitting errors in the final four points of the contest, and Glastonbury went away with a 15-11 win in the final game of the series.
Gianacopolos hopes it grabbed his team’s attention.
“If we practice like we want to play in a match, we can fix this,” he said. “Right now, we’re fighting against ourselves.”