By BRIAN JENNINGS
The Lady Knight volleyball team bounced back from a loss in the opener with wins in two of their three matches last week. Southington coach Rich Heitz said that size has been a challenge for the Knights at times, especially in the two losses they’ve sustained.
That was noticeable during a loss to RHAM on Wednesday when Southington struggled at times against RHAM’s big men, but Heitz said that the team worked on some fundamentals that should pay dividends down the road.
“I realize that we have a tough schedule, and some of the tough games may be early in the season,” he said. “Your five-foot-seven kid might not be able to block a six-foot-two kid, but we just want to go out and play hard, and see where that takes us.”
Heitz said that he’s already seen a number of improvements since the team shifted gears during the preseason.
“We’re trying to utilize the kids’ athleticism to their advantage,” said the coach. “We have to learn some new things that we haven’t been doing for a few years, in order to allow these kids to reach their potential.”
SEPT. 12—The Knights earned their first win of the season in their home opener when they shut out Conard, 3-0 (25-15, 25-13, 25-6), to start the week.
Morgan Raymond powered the offense with five kills on 11 attacks and anchored the defense with nine digs and four total blocks. Hannah Zelina (3 total blocks) spiked five kills on eight attacks and went 16-for-18 serving with seven aces. Kelly Kritz (4 kills, 3 digs) went 18-for-20 with seven aces. Megan Mahon (4 kills, 3 digs) dished out 14 assists. The Knights finished with 20 aces from the service line.
“We fixed some of the things we didn’t do real well against NW Catholic in practice,” the coach said. “We seemed to get stronger as the night went on.”
Swept by RHAM
SEPT. 14—Following their first shutout win of the season, the Knights suffered their first shutout loss, 3-0 (25-17, 25-19, 29-27), of the season when they traveled to Hebron to take on RHAM a couple days later.
“We had played them down in Darien in a preseason scrimmage, and they are big,” said Heitz. “Their lineup consists of girls that are over six feet. That presented a lot for challenges for us size-wise because we’re not overly tall this year.”
The Knights were up by a lead of 23-13 in the third set, but let RHAM come back to take the set and ultimately the match.
“That’s something that we have to learn as a team,” the coach said. “We have to close the door when we’ve worked so hard to get an advantage. It was a learning experience and we’re working at that, but I saw a lot of good things and resiliency in set three.”
Raymond (3 digs) led the offense with eight kills on 14 attacks. Nolyn Allen went 8-for-12 serving with a pair of aces and anchored the defense with seven digs. Kritz (6 kills) went 14-for-15 with two aces. Erica Bruno attacked the net with three total blocks. Stephanie Zera distributed 10 assists. Mahon contributed with seven assists and five kills.
SEPT. 16—After suffering their second loss of the season, Southington bounced back by taking down the defending Class L champion, Platt, with a 3-0 sweep (25-22, 25-13, 25-19) at home to round out the week.
“They graduated a lot, but they still play a tough, grind-it-out type of volleyball,” said Heitz. “We toed the line with them in the first set, but then we were able to put some distance in the second and third sets. We started serving a little better and had better placement and control of our serves.”
Raymond (3 digs) marshaled the attack with nine kills. Kritz (3 kills) went 13-for-17 serving with five aces. Kritz and Allen anchored the defense with seven digs each. Zelina (5 kills) went 16-for-17 with five aces. Zelina and Bruno led the charge up front with two total blocks each. Erica Daigle (5 assists) went 12-for-12 with five aces. Zera passed 14 assists.
Southington is currently 2-2 overall and 1-1 in the CCC Central Blue, tied for 19th out of 36 teams in Class LL and tied for second out of five teams in the CCC Central Blue. With 14 matches remaining in the regular season, the Knights are six wins away from qualifying for the Class LL tournament. The Knights will host Hall (3-2) on Friday, Sept. 23 and are also scheduled to play in the John Jay Invitational in New York on Saturday, Sept. 24.