By BRIAN JENNINGS
Ever since their loss to RHAM, the Lady Knight volleyball team has been on a tear, and six-straight wins qualified them for the Class LL tournament for the 14-straight year, making it 15 consecutive state tournament appearances under Southington coach Rich Heitz.
But Heitz and his Lady Knights never talk about qualifying for the state tournament. Heitz said that they just go about their business and expect to qualify every year.
“We’re talking more about trying to win the league and win home court advantage throughout the tournament until it goes to neutral sites,” said Heitz. “Those are still goals that we have and hope to accomplish.”
Focusing more on what the team can control versus what the team can’t control is what Heitz credits the team’s recent hot streak.
“One of my concerns in the beginning of the season was blocking, and I think we’re doing as good a job as we could have hoped for,” the coach said. “We have some things that we have to clean up, but we’ve come a long way in that.”
Through Southington’s run, serving has been slightly inconsistent, but defense has been solid. However, if both areas are off during the postseason, especially defense, Heitz said the team wouldn’t be as successful.
“We practice it a lot,” said Heitz. “It’s all about ball control, especially when you’re an undersized team. You have to be able to pass well, or else you won’t stand a chance.”
The Knights will be back on the hardwood this week when they travel to Simsbury (9-4) on Tuesday, Oct. 10 and then return home to host Avon (9-2) on Friday, Oct. 13. Avon is currently third in the CCC.
The Knights are also scheduled to travel to American International College in Springfield, Mass. on Monday, Oct. 9 for the fifth annual Spalding VolleyHall Class Girls High School Tournament, which is scheduled to start at 8 a.m. The tournament will feature 24 of the top girls high school teams from throughout the Northeast, including state champions from Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine, New York, and Washington D.C.
Southington is currently 9-1, ranked second in the CCC and fourth in Class LL.
Win at NW Catholic
OCT. 2—The Knights began the week by earning their fourth-straight win and fifth shutout of the season with a 3-0 (25-8, 25-15, 25-8) sweep of divisional NW Catholic on the road on Monday.
Team leaders from the match included the following: Erica Bruno (9 kills), Haley Larrabee (12-for-15 serving with 6 aces), Hannah Zelina (8 digs), and Stephanie Zera (37 assists).
Win vs. Platt
OCT. 4—A couple days later, the Knights qualified for the state tournament by earning their fifth-straight win with a 3-0 (25-14, 25-13, 25-14) sweep of Platt at home on Wednesday.
Zera and Jenna Martin marshaled the offense behind the baseline. Zera went 11-for-12 serving with four aces, and Martin went 17-for-17 with four aces. Zera also dished out 35 assists. Sarah Myrick paced the offense with nine kills, and Nolyn Allen anchored the defense with 12 digs.
Win at EO Smith
OCT. 6—After dropping the first set of Friday’s match at EO Smith, the Knights rallied back to take the next three and earn their sixth-straight win with a 3-1 (18-25, 25-19, 25-20, 25-23) triumph over the Panthers. EO Smith is currently tied for fourth in the CCC.
Team leaders from the match included the following: Myrick (15 kills), Martin (14-for-15 serving with 3 aces), Zelina (3 blocks), Allen (22 digs), and Zera (45 assists).
For this week’s box scores, click here: (southingtonobserver.com/2017/10/10/weekly-scoreboard-for-the-oct-13-edition). To contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.