By BRIAN JENNINGS
A cloud of uncertainty hung over the heads of Southington coach Lou Gianacopolos and his Blue Knight volleyball team coming into this week. However, back-to-back shutouts and a five-set loss to one of the best teams in the state seemed to dissipate that cloud.
If there’s anything Gianacopolos Sr. learned, it’s that he has no doubts in the type of team his Knights are capable of being as they head into the home stretch of the regular season schedule.
“You can play a really good competitive match and be happy and successful with the outcome, whether you win or lose,” the coach said. “We understand that it’s not something to be frowned upon if you don’t come out on top. But if you do play well and give it your best, that’s a successful match.”
The Knights will look to bounce back from the loss when they continue their six-match road stretch with games against Bulkeley (4-9) and Farmington (7-5). Southington is currently 12-2 overall and leads the CCC South Region (4-0).
Win vs. Maloney
MAY 1—The Knights began the week by earning their sixth shutout of the season in a 3-0 sweep (25-10, 25-10, 25-14) of Maloney at home on Monday.
“It was a good turning point to the season where we actually played like the team that I believe we are,” said Gianacopolos Sr. “We were firing on all cylinders. It was the point where we were pushing from the start all the way to the end, and we didn’t let up.”
Lou Gianacopolos Jr. (13 digs, 3 kills) dished out 30 assists and controlled the net with four blocks. Brian Durocher (11 digs, 7 kills) went 18-for-20 serving with four aces, and Tim Walsh (5 digs) paced the offense with 10 kills.
Andrew Chavez anchored the defense by recording a season high of 14 digs, emerging as a key senior libero.
“He’s the calm and quiet kid who doesn’t push to get playing time,” the coach said. “He just quietly shows you all throughout the practice and sits back. I noticed it and believed in him, so I put him in. He played phenomenal.”
Win at Glastonbury
MAY 3—A couple days later, the Knights earned their ninth-straight win and seventh shutout of the season with a repeat 3-0 sweep (25-15, 25-16, 25-21) at Glastonbury.
Gianacopolos Jr. (8 digs, 4 kills) dished out 27 assists and went 10-for-13 serving with three aces. Gianacopolos Jr. also led at the net with four blocks.
Walsh (7 digs, 1 block) paced the offense with 10 kills on 29 attacks, and Chavez anchored the defense with 11 digs. Durocher (10 digs, 6 kills) went 12-for-13 behind the service line with three aces.
Loss at East Hartford
MAY 5—Southington’s nine-match winning streak was snapped following a one-point loss, 3-2 (19-25, 27-25, 25-23, 26-28, 15-12), at East Hartford on Friday. The Hornets are currently tied for first with Darien and Cheshire in Class L. Southington finished the match with 16 blocks and 29 hitting errors.
“That group we saw last year are seniors this year,” said Gianacopolos Sr. “They graduated one person last year, and they’re team is just as strong this year.”
Durocher paced the offense with 15 kills on 58 attacks and anchored the defense with 23 digs. Durocher also went 15-for-19 serving with an ace.
Gianacopolos Jr. (18 digs, 7 kills) dished out 32 assists and went 20-for-21 behind the service line with an ace. Dan Hackerman (3 digs, 2 kills) led in front of the net with eight blocks, and Walsh contributed with 15 digs and 12 kills.
“The East Hartford coach said to me that he was on pins and needles and was going to have a heart attack during the match because it was such an exciting match,” the coach said. “I planned this match for this position of the season to help get us ready for our big away streak and the postseason tournaments.”
For this week’s box scores, click here: (southingtonobserver.com/2017/05/10/weekly-scoreboard-for-the-may-12-edition). To contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.