By BRIAN JENNINGS
Sam Lohneiss crouched, waiting for the Avon spike. When it came hurtling toward her, she joined her fists together and deflected the ball high into the ceiling. The ball floated slightly towards one of the hanging basketball hoops at the side of the gym, and fell through as if Loehneiss was shooting free throws.
The gym erupted in laughter at the unorthodox situation, but Emily Mankus jumped into action. She bolted over to keep the point alive and hit the ball over net for an eventual winner to keep the Lady Knights’ lead going in the second set.
“I’ve never seen that in 22 years of coaching,” said Southington coach Rich Heitz. “The thing is, it went through the hoop and everyone was laughing. Emily comes running over and played it. It’s a live ball. That was a nice rally because it went back and forth a little bit after that.”
Mankus’ point-saving play in the second set helped the Knights defeat Avon, 3-0 (25-19, 25-16, 25-18), at home on Wednesday, Oct. 21.
The Knights never trailed by a large margin after the first set, but found themselves down 15-12 in the first set. After Heitz called for a timeout, Lohneiss served the ball from the line to the Falcons’ defense. Avon set up an attack as they went for the kill, but Lohneiss then countered by making a diving play to dig the ball out deep into Avon’s territory, untouched for a point. Lohneiss’ defensive stand started a 13-4 run for the Knights as Avon continued to make mistakes throughout the match, missing five serves in the first set.
“The kids all celebrated that one because it was a nice play,” said Heitz. “Sometimes, stuff like that is what kicks you up for momentum. Avon is new to the CCC, and we never played them before. You come out in a game like this. and you’re kind of like trying to feel the other one a little bit. I know some of the kids have played club together, but no one is showing all of their cards.”
Sylwia Lewkowicz (two blocks) powered the attack with eight kills on 21 attempts. Morgan Raymond (five kills, 10 serves received) and Kelsea Allen (five kills, three blocks) contributed. Allen also went 11-for-13 from the line with seven aces.
Lohneiss anchored the defense with 10 digs (two aces). Stephanie Zera (nine digs, three aces) balanced the attack with 25 assists. Nicole Groll (eight digs) sealed up the middle with 15 serves received.
Southington started the week with a 3-0 win (25-6, 25-10, 25-10) at Bulkeley (0-16) on Monday.
Lewkowicz attacked the net with five kills on eight attempts. Emily Mankus (five kills, two digs) and Allen (five kills, two aces) contributed. Lindsey Witte went 12-for-13 from the line with six aces. Zera (three assists) went 5-for-5 serving with four aces. Megan Mahon set up the offense with five assists. Lohneiss (three aces, two assists) held down the defense with three digs. Groll coved the middle with five serves received.
The Knights ended their week with a 3-0 home win over Conard (4-13) on Friday.
Lewkowicz spiked eight kills and Michelle Stublarec had five kills. Mankus, Allen, and Sarah Myrick all had contributed with four kills, and Myrick had four aces.
Southington is currently in first place of the Blue Division in the Central Region with 15-1 record, a half of a match ahead of Glastonbury (14-3). They are third in Class LL, behind Darien (14-0) and Amity (16-1), and third in the CCC, behind RHAM (15-0) and Bristol Eastern (15-1).
The Knights will look to keep their hot streak of 11 wins in a row going when they travel to Conard on Monday, Oct. 26, visit Maloney (9-6) on Wednesday, Oct. 28, and return home to host RHAM in their regular season finale on Friday.