By John Goralski
In the first game, Southington fought off a pesky conference opponent on the road. The next day, they avenged a loss from last season. On Friday, the girls overwhelmed their third opponent by dominating at the net.
There’s still a lot of volleyball to be played before Southington’s annual postseason run, but week one has already answered a number of questions.
“I’ve liked our aggressive attitude. The girls have been playing at a faster pace and more aggressive than they have been,” said Lady Knight coach Rich Heitz. “I’ve been pleasantly surprised. I’ve really liked the level of serving that we’ve done over the first three games, and that makes life a lot easier for us.”
Things will not get easier from here. Southington will face Farmington, Hall, and Bristol Eastern as they push into a six-game stretch that rivals any postseason draw.
On Monday, Sept. 9, the Knights raced to a pair of 25-14 victories and held off Conard in game three, 25-21, to open the season with a three-game sweep in West Hartford.
Southington rallied for 25 kills and 13 aces, but started out slow. The Knights committed five serving errors in game one but finished with just seven on the night.
Nicole Groll went 14-for-15 from the line with five aces and eight digs. Caroline Barry had eight kills. Sylwia Lewkowicz contributed six kills and two blocks.
“We had a little bit of first night jitters,” said the coach. “Conard’s a little scrappy, and they had some rallies. Last year, it was really tight, so it was nice to come out and play as well as we did.”
Lewis Mills win
Maryssa Romano and Barry combined for 17 of Southington’s 35 kills. Romano dealt out seven aces in 15 serving attempts, and the Knights rallied past Lewis Mills on Tuesday, 25-14, 25-10, and 25-11.
Last year, Lewis Mills scored a victory over the Knights, but Southington avenged that loss with a defense that handled 25 digs. Groll led the way with eight digs. Romano (7), Barry (4), Emily Mankus (3), and Kateri Downes (3) contributed.
“We did a really good job of serving them out of system, I thought,” said Heitz. “We hit our spots really well, but there were some rotations on the other side that we really felt we could serve against. We tried to capitalize on that, and we did.”
NW Catholic sweep
Lewkkowicz proved too much to handle as the Knights capped their perfect week with a 3-0 road win at NW Catholic. The junior middle rallied for 10 kills in 14 attempts, and anchored the defense up front with four blocks.
NW Catholic never threatened, and the Knights improved to 3-0 with their third sweep of the early season. Southington won easily, 25-8, 25-22, 25-13.
“We came out and served well in game one, and NW Catholic wasn’t able to pass serve-receive as well as they have in the past,” said Heitz. “We were able to really take them out of system with our serves right off the back, and we were able to establish the middle which helped our outsides.”
Barry finished with eight kills and eight digs. Romano collected six kills, five aces, and seven digs. Lindsey Witte and Mankus scored four aces apiece, and Groll anchored the back defense with seven digs.