By BRIAN JENNINGS
The Blue Knights boys volleyball team advanced to the quarterfinals of the Class L tournament for the 11th-straight year, but came up short to No. 5 Ridgefield, 3-2, after taking the Tigers to a deciding fifth set at home on Saturday, June 4.
“Seeing how the boys started off, it came to the motto of let’s play again,” said Southington coach Lou Gianacopolos. “Whatever happened in the previous point, we moved on and just went to the next point. We were reflecting on everything we were doing wrong in the first and second games.”
The Tigers took the first and second games, 25-16, 25-15, but the Knights rallied back with runs of 9-0 and 13-2 to tie the match at 2-2 by taking the next two games, 25-15, 25-22. However, the Tigers ended the comeback by edging out the Knights by two points in a seesaw, fifth set, 15-13.
“We made just a slight change towards the end, but it was just enough to stir them up a little bit,” said Gianacopolos. “Come game five, it was point for point and it was an opportunity. I almost said to the team that we got this, but we have to keep working for it.”
Devin Prive paced the Knights with 13 kills and six blocks. Mike Aberizk (3 blocks, 5 digs) went 22-for-23 serving with a pair of aces and 12 kills. Lou Gianacopolos Jr. (9 kills, 6 digs) went 18-for-19 with a couple aces.
Tim Cocozza (6 digs) went 12-for-12. Brian Durocher (8 kills, 6 digs) went 11-for-14. Jordan Meier (51 assists, 5 digs) went 12-for-13. Jack Dietz contributed with nine kills and five blocks.
The fourth-seeded Knights advanced to the quarterfinals by triumphing over No. 13 Fairfield Warde-Ludlowe, 3-1, in a first round home game.
Aberizk (6 digs, 2 blocks) marshaled the Southington with 14 kills and went 15-for-18 with an ace behind the line. Gianacopolos Jr. (13 digs, 3 kills) went 15-for-16 with a pair of aces. Meier (31 assists, 7 digs) went 13-for-14. Durocher (17 digs, 6 kills) went 13-for-16. Prive contributed with eight blocks and four kills. Dietz finished with six kills and five blocks.
The Knights finished the 2016 season with a 16-4 record. Gianacopolos said that the team started off the season with a little uncertainty, but finished out so strong as a group and team.
“Two-thirds of the way into the season, we found out that we were a family and stuck together,” the coach said. “We knew that through thick and thin, family sticks together. No matter what happened, that’s what they did.”