By BRIAN JENNINGS
Through being shutout, recording a shutout, and displaying resiliency after dropping the first set, the Lady Knight volleyball team faced some of the best competition on their regular season schedule, including one of the top teams in the state.
Southington went 2-1 this past week and are one win away from qualifying for the Class LL tournament with seven matches remaining in the regular season. Still, coach Rich Heitz said that the team is still improving and is not looking at just one more win.
“It’s not so much that,” the coach said. “We will try to win as many as we can the rest of the way to improve our seeding in the state tournament. Certainly the matches coming up are going to be very difficult challenges, but we’re up to those challenges. Certainly, we’ve seen some great teams with Farmington, RHAM, and EO Smith.”
Loss vs. Farmington
OCT. 5—Southington’s four-match winning streak was broken when they welcomed in the top team in Class L and the CCC on Wednesday, undefeated Farmington, as the Knights were swept by the Indians, 25-16, 25-17, and 25-21.
“It wasn’t just a serving game. There were a lot of rallies,” said Heitz. “If you lose 25-20, that’s three points going either way. We played some of our best volleyball of the year and competed. We kept it close for a while, but just lost some of the momentum and made a few more errors than they made.”
Megan Mahon (1 block) and Morgan Raymond (10 digs) attacked the net with 10 kills apiece. Erica Daigle went 12-for-12 serving with a pair of aces. Hannah Zelina (2 kills, 1 block) went 11-for-12 serving with two aces. Stephanie Zera dished out 34 assists.
Kelly Kritz finished with seven kills and three digs. Nolyn Allen contributed with eight digs and Erica Bruno with four kills.
“Farmington is a very good with serve-receive team,” the coach said. “I knew that they were a good team. We saw them down at Darien, and they handled us pretty easily.”
Win vs. NFA
OCT. 6—The Knights bounced back the next night at home with a 3-0 shutout over NFA. Southington edged NFA in all three contests, 25-22, 26-24, and 25-19.
Mahon (4 digs) paced the Knights with 12 kills. Kritz went 20-for-22 serving with a triad aces. Zera (5 digs) went 16-for-16 behind the service line with a pair of aces and set up the outside hitters with 33 assists. Allen went 10-for-12 serving with two aces and anchored the defense with 22 digs.
Bruno (2 kills), Zelina (6 kills, 5 digs), and Mahon led the charge up front with two blocks apiece. Raymond finished with 10 kills and nine digs. Kritz contributed with six digs and four kills.
Win vs. EO Smith
OCT. 7—After dropping the first set by a few points, Southington returned to take the next three sets in a 3-1 victory over EO Smith at home on Friday. Southington fell, 25-22, in the first game and edged the Panthers, 26-24, in the second game to kick off a three-win rally (25-20, 25-14).
“Farmington’s coach had told me that after they played EO Smith, they were probably the strongest team they had played up until that point,” said Heitz. “We came out and jumped on them pretty good, going up 14-8, and then all of a sudden we let them grab the momentum.”
The Knights had trouble regaining the momentum after being down 19-14 in the second set, looking like it was going to be a quick night.
“They proceeded to jump all over us, but we battle back to grab the momentum and close out the next two sets,” the coach said. “When we play with a sense of urgency, we play very well. We need to play like that more often.”
Raymond (12 digs) powered the offense with 13 kills. Kritz (12 kills) went 22-for-25 serving with five aces and anchored the defense with 17 digs. Daigle was perfect behind the service line, going 19-for-19 with a triad of aces. Zelina (12 kills, 1 block) went 12-for-14 serving with three aces. Zera (6 digs) handled 46 assists.
Mahon finished with nine kills and five digs. Nolyn Allen contributed with 12 digs and Erica Bruno with eight kills.
Southington is currently 7-3 overall and 3-2 in the CCC Central Blue (3rd). The Knights will look to qualify for the postseason this week with matches against Bristol Eastern (9-2) and Avon (9-2).
The Knights are also scheduled to play in the Springfield Hall of Fame Classic at American International College in Springfield, Mass. on Monday, Oct. 10.