By BRIAN JENNINGS
The Lady Knight volleyball team won three more games this week to cap the regular season with a 10-match winning streak. More importantly, they went out on top. Southington shared the CCC Central Blue title with Glastonbury for the second-straight year after the Tomahawks defeated Simsbury, 3-0, on Thursday, Oct. 27.
“We dropped the first match of the season to NW Catholic and had to play catch-up all season long,” said Southington coach Rich Heitz. “We (Southington and Glastonbury) both dropped Farmington, so we had to beat Glastonbury, in order to have a chance to for a tie.”
Heitz said that sharing the divisional crown for the second-consecutive year is a testament to the youth of Southington’s program.
“JV was good last year with a 16-2 record,” the coach said. “So their success carried over, and they’re a year older. It’s nice to be able to do it when you only have four seniors, not like when we had seven last year.”
OCT. 24—Southington began the week with a 3-0 sweep over Bulkeley on Monday. Southington won easily, 25-6, 25-12, 25-7.
Kelly Kritz (3 digs) paced the offense with 10 kills and went 7-for-7 serving with three aces. Stephanie Zera (10 assists) and Hannah Zelina (5 kills) finished with four aces apiece. Erica Daigle contributed three aces and 16 assists.
Cassidy Herrick and Morgan Raymond anchored the defense with eight digs apiece. Megan Mahon (5 kills, 1 block), Emily Tinyszin (3 kills, 1 block), and Erica Bruno (3 kills, 3 digs) contributed.
OCT. 25—The next day, the Knights welcomed Glastonbury to their home floor and blanked the Tomahawks, 3-0 (25-16, 25-18, 25-22), in a crucial divisional match. The win clinched a share of the CCC Central Blue Division title with Glastonbury.
Of course, Heitz was thrilled with the win, but he said that he wasn’t thinking about a shutout when they were preparing for Glastonbury.
“I knew it was going to be a battle,” said Heitz. “I wasn’t too happy when we got down 4-1 to start, but the kids battled back and got some momentum. I thought it was one of our best matches on the season.”
Zera (5 digs, 4 aces) quarterbacked the Knights with 23 assists. Kritz (8 digs) and Zelina (3 digs) led the offense with eight kills apiece, and Daigle went 15-for-15 serving with thee aces to lead the Knights at the line.
Zelina ( 4 aces) and Mahon (6 kills, 6 digs) collected two blocks apiece. Nolyn Allen (13 digs) and Raymond (8 digs, 7 kills) contributed.
“Our game plan was to serve to different passers, and we did that very well,” the coach said. “We did a really good job taking them out of system. We cut down on the amount of swings they were taking at the ball.”
OCT. 26—Southington closed out the season with a 3-1 road win at Pomperaug, just the second non-conference opponent of the season. The Panthers rebounded from a 25-15 loss in the first game to tie the series with a two point win in game two. Southington clawed out the match with two wins down the stretch, 25-21 and 25-18.
After missing just four serves against Glastonbury, Southington missed 16 against Pomperaug.
“It was a different type of play,” said Heitz. “They were a little more unconventional compared to what we’ve normally seen. It was nothing bad, we just struggled to adjust to that.”
Raymond marshaled the offense with 12 kills and seven aces, and she anchored the defense with 19 digs. Kritz had 10 kills and three blocks to go with six digs. Daigle (5 digs) went 19-for-21 serving with three aces.
Julia Wells (4 blocks), Zera (35 assists, 5 digs), Mahon (7 digs, 7 kills), Bruno (9 kills, 3 blocks), Allen (14 digs), and Zelina (8 kills) contributed to a balanced attack.
Southington finished the regular season at 15-3 overall and 4-0 in the CCC Central Blue Division. The Knights are also tied for sixth in Class LL.
Southington will enter the postseason as a No. 4 seed on Tuesday, Nov. 1 when they host No. 13 Rocky Hill (11-8) in the first round of the CCC tournament. If the Knights win, they will then play the winner of No. 12 Platt (10-8) at No. 5 Tolland (16-4) in the quarterfinals on Wednesday, Nov. 2.