By BRIAN JENNINGS
The volleyball careened toward the home stands after a dig, and Sam Lohneiss leapt toward the bleachers. Her dig kept the Southington volley alive, as she knocked it back in play and hit the deck. Her set came off flawlessly. Kelsea Allen for a slam over the net for a point.
Lohneiss’s effort to save the ball in the Lady Knights’ 3-0 (25-22, 25-19, 25-21) win at home against Simsbury (9-5) on Wednesday night, Oct. 14 was just example of how well the girls volleyball team has been playing together, exemplifying great chemistry.
Sylwia Lewkowicz powered the offense with 13 kills and three blocks. Michelle Stublarec and Kelsea Allen (5 aces, 3 blocks) added seven kills apiece. Stephanie Zera (2 blocks, 7 digs) marshaled the attack 28 assists.
Nicole Groll (12-for-14 serving) anchored the defense with 10 digs and 29 serves received. Morgan Raymond (4 kills) nine digs and 10 serves received, and Emily Mankus finished with nine digs and five serves received. Lohneiss had four digs, including the one that kept the rally alive.
“I thought Michelle had a nice game tonight,” said Southington coach Rich Heitz. “Kelsea served very well and Emily’s been improving everyday. Kelly’s [Kritz] giving us a big presence on blocks, so we’re trying to get her in situations where she can be successful there. We need that from her and I thought she did a nice job tonight. She took a couple nice swings at the ball.”
Although the Knights never really trailed by a large deficit in the match, they came out of the gates slowly. Heitz said it was nothing to be worried about.
“We played all day on Monday,” said Heitz. “We didn’t practice yesterday because of that. It’s a motor skills sport, so any amount of time off, you’re going to have some rust. Our servicing passing and serving are improving. That’s where we want to be in those aspects to continue to improve there. We get the ball to our setter. We need to be a little more consistent with the sets to the outside because they can put it down when they get it, but we’re getting there.”
Earlier in the week on Monday, Southington competed in the VolleyHall Classic at American International College in Springfield, Mass, which featured 28 of the top high school teams throughout the Northeast. The Knights finished the tournament as the winners of the Bronze Bracket.
In the tournament, the Knights lost to Hollis-Brookline 1-0 (25-23), lost to Central Catholic 1-0 (25-20), lost to Scarsdale 1-0 (25-22), defeated Chicopee Comp 2-0 (25-18, 25-14), tied Pelham Memorial 1-1 (27-26, 19-25), defeated A-PR 2-0 (25-13, 25-23), defeated Bristol Eastern 1-0 (29-27), and defeated Greely 1-0 (25-21).
Lewkowicz led the Knights at the net with 37 kills and eight blocks on the day. Stublarec (18 kills), Kelly Kritz (6 kills), and Lindsey Witte (5 kills, 5 blocks) contributed.
Mankus went 48-for-50 serving throughout the tournament, collecting six aces and 28 digs. Allen scored seven aces with 15 kills, seven blocks, and 15 digs. Raymond scored 16 kills and 25 digs.
Groll powered Southington’s back line with 11 aces and 38 digs. Lohneiss added 10 aces and 26 digs. Zera finished with nine aces, 93 assists, and 22 digs.
Scarsdale High School of Scarsdale, New York won the tournament, Barnstable High School of Hyannis, Mass finished as the runner-ups, and Hollis-Brookline High School of Hollis, N.H. won the Silver Bracket.
The tournament scores don’t affect Southington’s record, but with the win over Simsbury later in the week, Southington improved to 11-1 on the season. They currently sit atop the Blue Division of the Central Region and are tied for second overall in the CCC with Bristol Eastern (11-1) behind RHAM (13-0) and in third in Class LL behind Darien (11-0) and Amity (12-1).
The Knights will look to keep their dominance rolling when they travel to Bulkeley (0-13) on Monday, Oct. 19, host Avon (11-4) on Wednesday, Oct. 21, and host Conard (3-10) on Friday, Oct. 23.