By BRIAN JENNINGS
All it took was a wink to turn the Blue Knight volleyball team’s week around. After they suffered their first loss of the season to Staples in the beginning of the week, Southington coach Lou Gianacopolos Sr. made a coaching move that changed the outcome of the match at Shelton.
It came right after Southington dropped the first set.
“I got Tim Walsh’s attention and winked at him,” said Gianacopolos Sr. “Tim’s not the winking guy, but he winked at me and just started cracking up laughing.”
The rest of the team noticed the exchange, and it became contagious.
“Everyone started laughing, so I started winking at everyone else,” the coach said. “It changed the way we were thinking. You have to find the catalyst, and that wink turned two, three, and four around.”
Loss vs. Staples
APRIL 10—After starting their season with three-straight wins without dropping a single set in their first week of competition, the Knights suffered their first loss on the year after being swept, 3-0 (25-15, 25-21, 25-11), by Staples at home on Monday. Southington finished the match with 21 hitting errors, five blocks, and just two serving aces.
Lou Gianacopolos Jr. marshaled the offense with eight kills and went 9-for-10 serving with an ace. Gianacopolos Jr. also dished out 18 assists and anchored the defense with seven digs, sharing four blocks with Rocco Possidento with two each at the net.
Niko Sophroniou went 8-for-9 behind the service line with an ace. Brian Durocher contributed with six kills and six digs.
Win at Shelton
APRIL 12—A couple days later, the Knights bounced back from Monday’s loss by rallying to a 3-1 (20-25, 25-21, 25-18, 25-20) win at Shelton after dropping the first set.
Durocher (1 block) and Connor Brush (3 digs) led the offense with seven kills apiece. Durocher went 23-for-24 serving with an ace. Brush went 13-for-15 behind the service line. Durocher also anchored the defense with 10 digs.
Gianacopolos Jr. (6 digs) dished out 21 assists and went 14-for-16 serving with an ace. Sophroniou (9 digs) went 15-for-15 behind the service line with a pair of aces.
Tim Walsh contributed with six kills and three blocks. Daniel Hackerman contributed with four blocks.
Win vs. Farmington
APRIL 13—The Knights rounded out the week by earning their fifth overall win of the season by blanking Farmington, 3-0 (25-20, 25-23, 25-18), at home the next day, recording their fourth shutout on the year.
Through six matches thus far, the Knights have dropped just four sets. Southington finished the match with 14 blocks.
The Knights also had just five service errors.
Durocher (1 block) and Walsh (6 digs, 3 blocks) paced the offense with nine kills apiece. Durocher and Gianacopolos Jr. (4 kills, 2 blocks) anchored the defense with 10 digs each. Gianacopolos Jr. also dished out 27 assists and went 12-for-14 serving with an ace.
Brush (4 kills, 2 blocks) went 10-for-12 behind the service line with a pair of aces. Sophroniou (3 digs) went 13-for-14 serving with two aces. Hackerman (3 digs, 2 kills) and Possidento (4 kills) contributed with three blocks apiece.
The Knights will be back on the hardwood this week when they host Enfield (4-1) on Wednesday, April 19 and Newington (3-2) on Friday, April 21. Southington is currently 5-1 overall.
For this week’s box scores, click here: (southingtonobserver.com/2017/04/18/weekly-scoreboard-for-the-april-21-edition/). To contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.