By BRIAN JENNINGS
Although they lost a much-anticipated match to Staples Wreckers (2-0) on Saturday, April 11, they didn’t get wrecked and had three strong showings for their first three matches of the season.
After finishing last season with a second-place finish in the CCC South for the second-straight year and a fourth runner-up finish in the state tournament, the Knights are already showing that they have a lot to prove.
The Knights first match of the season was a successful one, as they cruised to a comfortable 3-0 victory over the Maloney Spartans (1-1) at home on Wednesday night, April 8.
“They were wondering about themselves,” said Southington coach Lou Gianacopolos. “I don’t think we quite knew what we would be in a game situation. Maloney this year is much better than the past. They played very good for a first time that we’ve seen them so far. I was very pleased with the progress they’ve made.”
The Knights were able to hold the Spartans to just 39 total points, not letting them pass 15 points in a single game of the best of five series.
Adam Brush led the Knights with 11 kills (3.7 per set) and a kill percentage of 84.6 (.769 hitting percentage). Mike Aberizk led with seven aces (2.3 per set) and an ace percentage of 53.8. Adam Viviano led with two total blocks (one solo and one assist) and 35 assists. Mark Horanzy led with six digs (2.0 per set) and 12 serves received (4.0 per set).
“When we turn the serving on, their ball control was not as strong,” said the coach. “We started executing on player’s techniques on the other team and just went at them. We saw a bit of a weakness and just kept pushing at it.”
Farmington in Five
The Knights continued their success with a 3-2 victory over the Farmington Indians (2-1) at home on Friday night.
After stunning the Knights by capturing the first set 25-20, the Indian players expressed a lot of energy, celebration, and momentum. However, the Knights answered right back by winning the second set 25-17 and the third 25-21.
Farmington wouldn’t be put away so easily. The Indians answered with a comeback of their own by winning the fourth set, 25-20.
It would be the decisive fifth set where the Knights would emerge victorious with a score of 15-13, winning a very close match over the Indians 3-2.
“The first set was the education for us,” said Gianacopolos. “What we do in the first set is learn about the other team. We run our offense and if it’s going well, we stick with it, but if after game one, we see weaknesses on the other side and places to execute, we go that route. We knew they were younger, inexperienced guys out of the middle of the net. So we started attacking more out of the middle.”
Horanzy led the Knights with 22 kills (4.4 per set) and a kill percentage of 52.4 (hitting percentage of .333). Horanzy, Viviano, and Jordan Meir all had one ace. Horanzy (three solo) and Brush (two solo and one assist) shared the lead of three total blocks.
Viviano led with 12 digs (2.4 per set) and 55 assists (11.0 per set). Tom Del Buono led with 38 serves received (7.6 per set) as Southington improved to 2-0.
The Knights entered Saturday evening for a third time on their home court, hoping to go 3-0 in the season against one of their toughest opponents on the schedule. The Knights battled, but fell short to the Staples Wreckers, 3-1.
Southington tried posting a comeback after going down in the first two sets and winning the third set, but the Wreckers put the match in the books with a 25-22 win in the fourth set.
Gianacopolos said that that fourth set had a combination of errors and a momentum change.
“I set this match up for a specific reason,” said Gianacopolos. “I set this match up for a playoff atmosphere. We played three games in a row and we were fatigued. We came in tonight and looked a little tired after coming off of a five-game match last night. It came down to serve receiving and serving in key moments.”
Horanzy led the Knights with 21 kills (5.3 per set) and a kill percentage of 52.5 (hitting percentage of .375). He also finished with six aces (1.5 per set) and 24 serves received (6.0 per set).
Nate Keen was strong up in front of the net with two total blocks (two solo). Brian Durocher jumped into the mix leading with 16 digs (4.0 per set). Viviano led with 32 assists (8.0 per set).
The Knights (2-1) will look to rebound this week with games against East Hartford (2-0), Lewis Mills (2-1), and South Windsor (2-1).