By BRIAN JENNINGS
The Lady Knight volleyball team entered the postseason this past week and came away with a pair of wins and a semifinals appearance for the second-straight year in the CCC tournament before falling to one of the best teams in the state for the second time this season.
Southington is currently 15-3 overall and entering the Class LL tournament as the seventh seed, receiving a bye in the first round. The Knights will host the winner of No. 23 Conard (8-9) at No. 10 Shelton (15-5) in the second round on Thursday, Nov. 10 at 6 p.m.
Along with Southington, No. 1 Greenwich (17-1), No. 2 Amity (17-1), No. 3 Stamford (18-2), No. 4 Ridgefield (17-2), No. 5 Brien McMahon (16-3), No. 6 Cheshire (15-3), and No. 8 Newtown (15-4) all received byes in the first round. Fairfield Ludlowe is the defending champion, but did not qualify for the 2016 tournament.
Rocky Hill, First Round
NOV. 1—Southington entered the postseason as the fourth seed in the CCC tournament and hosted No. 13 Rocky Hill on Tuesday, advancing to the quarterfinals by blanking the Terriers, 3-0 (25-14, 25-13, 25-12).
Kelly Kritz (3 kills) went 19-for-20 serving with seven aces. Kritz also anchored the defense with 12 digs and a pair of blocks. Morgan Raymond (6 digs) paced the offense with six kills and complemented Kritz with two blocks. Stephanie Zera went 15-for-17 behind the service line with five aces and dished out 18 assists. Megan Mahon (6 digs, 4 kills), Hannah Zelina (5 digs, 4 kills), Nolyn Allen (10 digs), and Erica Bruno (5 kills) contributed as well.
NOV. 2—The Knights remained home the next day to host No. 5 Tolland in the quarterfinals, advancing to the semifinals with a 3-0 shutout (25-11, 25-14, 25-23) over the Eagles.
Zelina (1 block) attacked the net with 14 kills and went 10-for-11 serving with four aces. Kritz (7 kills, 3 digs) went 18-for-20 behind the line with three aces. Sarah Myrick went 8-for-9 serving with a pair of aces. Allen anchored the defense with 21 digs. Erica Daigle (3 digs) stepped in at the setter position for Zera (15 assists, 3 digs) after she went down with an injury and handled 20 assists. Raymond (12 kills, 10 digs), Mahon (13 digs, 9 kills), and Bruno (5 kills) contributed as well.
NOV. 4—After a one-day rest, Southington traveled to Avon High School on Friday where they were eliminated from the CCC tournament after suffering a 3-0 loss (25-19, 25-17, 25-20) to top-seeded Farmington in the semifinals.
“We knew that they were 60-0 in sets this season,” said Heitz. “Our goal was to hopefully take a set from them to see if it might help crack them a little bit. If you take one set, you know you’re at least going to be playing in a fourth set. Then who knows, maybe you can get to a fifth set, and anything could happen.”
Kritz (6 digs) paced the offense with seven kills. Raymond (10 digs, 4 kills) went 10-for-11 serving with three aces. Zera (9 digs, 1 block) went 10-for-11 behind the service line with a pair of aces and dished out 20 assists. Bruno (2 kills) and Zelina (5 kills, 3 digs) attacked the net, each with two blocks. Allen anchored the defense with 12 digs. Mahon contributed with eight digs and six kills.
“I think our serve-received passing was excellent,” the coach said. “The bigger issue we had was some of the blocking being late and not getting up at time, which caused a lot stress on our defense from hard attacked balls. We had a lot of unforced errors, where they didn’t.”
Farmington lost to RHAM (17-1) in the championship game. The Indians were swept, 3-0. RHAM won, 25-15, 25-23, and 28-26.
Senior All-Star Game
Earlier in the week, Raymond was selected to play in the 2016 Connecticut High School Coaches Association (CHSCA) Senior All-Star Game. The All-Star Game is a prestigious event, where some of the top high school players in the state have an opportunity to compete together that evening in a five-set match. Only 26 players from the state of Connecticut—13 per team—are selected. The game will be played at Maloney High School in Meriden on Monday, Nov. 21st at 6:30 pm.
“The girls are very happy for her, and I’m very proud of her,” said Heitz. “It’s one of the crowning achievements on a successful career and all of the hard work she’s put into volleyball. For her to be considered as one of the top seniors in the state Connecticut is a special recognition.”