By John Goralski
Southington fans have been spoiled in recent years by earning top seeds and making deep runs into the postseason, but there was a time when Coach Rich Heitz had to fight for every win.
Even those teams made deep runs into the postseason. That’s why Heitz isn’t too concerned by a 3-0 loss to Farmington for the second time this season. It makes the Knights a long-shot in a bid for a conference championship, but Heitz is still looking ahead.
Like those exciting battles in the past…
“I still think that this team is a lot better than some of those teams were,” said Heitz. “I just think that some of the teams that we are going up against are much better than they were. We’ve got four games [in our conference] against teams that are in the top 10.”
It isn’t always pretty. Southington struggled at the net against Farmington. The servers kept feeding the Indian libero, and Farmington’s offense was the one that kept the Knights out of system.
Farmington built leads in both games, but Southington had moments when they held their own.
Caroline Barry and Maryssa Romano had eight kills apiece. Morgan McCarthy managed 18 assists in the three game series. Allison McCormick matched Farmington’s assault with 21 digs. Romano and McCarthy had 13 digs apiece.
Farmington won, 25-18, 25-16, and 25-20, but the Knights fare much better than they did in the first meeting.
“I think [Farmington coach Laura Arena] would say that we played a lot better today than we did over at their place. I hope she’d say that, but we’re in a really tough division,” said Heitz. “A lot of times, we have four sophomores playing—tonight we had three. They just have to learn how to pick up the speed.”
Southington’s in no danger of missing the postseason. A 3-0 win over NW Catholic on Monday secured a postseason berth. A 3-0 win over Hall on Friday kept the Knights (9-5) in the hunt for a home game in the upcoming state tournament.
That’s important if the Knights are going to make another run like last season when they advanced to the semifinals as a 12th seed.
“There are some good teams out there like Cheshire and Darien,” said Heitz. “If you play them, you really don’t want to get them right off the bat. You want to fight for a good seed.”
And the Knights are still fighting.
On Monday, the Knights overwhelmed NW Catholic at the line with 19 aces in a 3-0 victory. Barry led the way with eight aces, and McCormick added six aces with 13 digs in the back row. Romano led the Knights at the net with nine kills. Barry (7 kills) and Michelle Stublarec (6 kills) contributed.
Southington swept the Indians, 25-7, 25-20, and 25-23, and that proves Heitz’ point about the schedule. NW Catholic struggles to compete in the CCC West, but in the postseason they’ve done well.
“This schedule really prepares us,” said Heitz. “Look at NW Catholic. They’ve really had some success in Class S. They can go in with a 9-9 record and make the finals like they did a couple of years ago.”
Southington’s five losses have all come against ranked teams. Against good teams, Southington has done well.
On Friday, the girls cruised to a 3-0 road victory at Hall with two lopsided wins sandwiching a 35-33 brawl.
Romano led the Knights with six aces and 11 kills. Barry had 10 kills, and McCarthy finished with 26 assists. McCormick (11 digs) and Romano (10 digs) anchored the defense.
With the victory, Southington improved to 9-5 overall (8-3 in the CCC West) with five games to go. The Knights are tied with Danbury for 16th place in the Class LL rankings.