By BRIAN JENNINGS
Since their loss to the top team in the state, it seems like the Lady Knight volleyball team hasn’t missed a beat. They won the John Jay Invitational for the first time in the program’s history and prevailed in all three of their last matches, taking down one of the Class L powerhouses along the way.
Did Southington’s loss to RHAM motivate them? It sure looks that way. But one thing for sure is that the Knights are right there in the mix with the top competition in the state, and might not be letting up anytime soon.
“We talked about RHAM before,” said Southington coach Rich Heitz. “They’re just a step above everyone in the state, but anyone else, we’re going to be right there. I love this group of kids, and we’re all going on a phenomenal ride this year.”
The Knights will be back on the hardwood next week with contests against divisional NW Catholic (2-7), Platt (3-4), and EO Smith (6-1). EO Smith is currently tied for third in the CCC. Southington is currently 6-1 and tied for third in the CCC as well.
Win vs. Newington
SEPT. 26—The Knights earned their second-straight win with a 3-0 (25-10, 25-21, 25-13) sweep of Newington at home on Tuesday. Southington only missed three serves in the match, going 71-for-74 from the service line.
“We came out and jumped right on them, serving tough,” said Heitz. “We took them out of system and generated a lot of free balls. We were able to run our offense.”
Team leaders from the match included the following: Brooke Cooney (7 kills), Jenna Martin (17-for-17 serving with 6 aces), Erica Bruno (2 blocks), Nolyn Allen (16 digs), and Stephanie Zera (32 assists).
Win vs. Farmington
SEPT. 29—The Knights rounded out the week by earning their third-straight win with a 3-1 triumph over Farmington at home on Friday, handing the Indians their first loss of the season. Farmington is currently tied for third in the CCC.
“You get into matches like this where the teams are both pretty even, and it’s like a chess match,” said Heitz. “You’re looking at matchups and stuff like that, and we I think we had a good matchup.”
Southington dominated most of the opening set, and after the score was knotted at 11-11, the Knights went on an 8-0 run to take the first set, 25-20.
“We had a matchup that brought a really nice kill from Erica Bruno in the first set,” the coach said. “I told Step (Zera) to remember that when we get the rotation, and we did it again, and it was nice.”
Farmington held a one-point lead, 11-10, midway through the second set and went on a 4-0 run to pull away from Southington, 25-19, and even the sets. Although their serving wasn’t at its best in the match, the Knights managed solid defense, especially at the net, and attacked Farmington’s back row to take the third set, 25-21, after going on runs of 6-0 and 4-0.
“I told the kids in practice yesterday that they play a defense where they play a person up, so they’ll cover everything,” said Heitz. “But if you can hit the ball to the middle back of the court, it’s open. Brooke Cooney did a phenomenal job exercising that.”
The Knights continued their momentum and capped off the victory by taking the fourth set, 25-19, with runs of 7-0 and 4-0. Southington surmounted a tough night behind the service line after missing a total of 15 serves, including six in the second set alone.
“It’s a game of momentum,” the coach said. “We were probably a little tighter because we’re playing Farmington in front of a bigger crowd. But, you can’t practice this stuff, so you have to get into the game and experience it.”
The following were team leaders in the match: Cooney (14 kills), Haley Larrabee (21-for-26 serving with 5 aces), Hannah Zelina (3 blocks), Allen (25 digs), and Zera (50 assists).
For this week’s box scores, click here: (southingtonobserver.com/2017/10/04/weekly-scoreboard-for-the-oct-6-edition). To contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.