By BRIAN JENNINGS
The Blue Knight volleyball team has been on a roll since suffering their first loss against Staples on Monday, April 10. It was three more wins for the Southington this past week, qualifying them for the Class L tournament for the for the 12th-straight year.
However, after the Knights dropped a pair of opening sets and experienced their first five-setter of the season, it’s those close matches and sets that are still on the mind of Southington coach Lou Gianacopolos Sr.
“Maybe we are having success in learning how to come back if we need to or keeping it close, but being able to close it out for the last few points,” said Gianacopolos Sr. “Maybe we can’t close it out from the start of the match to the end of the match. Maybe we have the ability to close it out when it’s time. I don’t know.”
The Knights will look to extend their winning streak this week when they host Maloney (5-4) before hitting the road for Glastonbury (5-4) and East Hartford (7-0).
Southington is currently ranked fourth in Class LL with an overall record of 10-1.
Win vs. Lewis Mills
APRIL 24—The Knights began the week on Monday and clinched a playoff berth following a 3-1 victory (25-23, 25-27, 25-19, 25-14) over Lewis Mills at home.
Tim Walsh (9 digs) paced the offense with 16 kills and went 12-for-13 serving with an ace. Brian Durocher (7 kills) anchored the defense with 13 digs and went 17-for-20 from the service line with an ace. Lou Gianacopolos Jr. (10 digs, 6 kills) dished out 37 assists and went 12-for-15 serving with an ace.
Win vs. Bulkeley
APRIL 26—A couple days later, the Knights recorded their fifth shutout of the season with a 3-0 sweep (25-17, 25-22, 25-17) of Bulkeley at home.
Connor Brush (9 digs, 3 blocks) marshaled the offense with nine kills and went 10-for-11 serving with an ace. William Pfanzelt (2 digs) dished out 16 assists and went 17-for-18 behind the service line with three aces. Andrew Chavez anchored the defense with 10 digs, and JJ Clark finished with five blocks at the net.
“JJ Clark really showed us something today,” the coach said. “JJ Clark might not be number one, two, three, or four middle on our team. However, he has the potential to do so. He has one of the better blocks on our team.”
Win at Simsbury
APRIL 28—In their first five-setter of the season, the Knights earned their seventh-straight win with a 3-2 victory at Simsbury to round out the week on Friday.
The Trojans took a 2-1 lead after winning the first and third sets, 22-25, 25-21, 23-25.
“The ball wasn’t bouncing our way,” said Gianacopolos Sr. “Our normal go-to guys were not so consistent. The just vibe felt weird and it was a strange place. Things were not clicking.”
However, with a change in the lineup helped the Knights recover and take the next two sets, 25-22, 15-8.
“I went through most of my roster and put in our backups,” said Gianacopolos. “They really did well, and it ended up getting us a win. When game five started, I put our regular guys in that had a break, and we dominated.”
Gianacopolos Jr. (5 kills) dished out 34 assists and anchored the defense with 26 digs. Gianacopolos Jr. also went 18-for-20 serving with a pair of aces.
Clark (3 blocks) led the offense with eight kills. Dan Hackerman (6 kills) led the team in front of the net with seven blocks. Walsh (1 block) contributed with 13 digs and seven kills.
For this week’s box scores, click here: (southingtonobserver.com/2017/05/02/weekly-scoreboard-for-the-may-5-edition). To contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.