By KEVIN ROBERTS
Southington girls volleyball coach Rich Heitz knew his team faced a big test on Oct. 16 when it took on Avon at Avon High School.
“I was concerned about the match. They did a number on us last year, and we have some of the same kids [this year], so our kids wanted to have a better showing,” Heitz said. “I thought we serve receive passed really well tonight. I thought at times our offense just didn’t run well.”
It wasn’t as easy as a 3-0 win might suggest, but the Lady Knights managed to sweep the Falcons, 25-20, 25-23 and 25-20. Southington also posted 3-0 wins over Rocky Hill and Hall to improve to 15-0.
Here’s how each match went:
Rocky Hill overmatched
OCT. 15—The Lady Knights ran away with the first set and wound up finishing off the Terriers in three sets. The set scores were 25-9, 25-23 and 25-13.
Southington tallied 20 aces against Rocky Hill and served at 90.5 percent as a team. Brooke Cooney led the way with six aces and had just one error in 16 serve attempts (93.8 percent). Era Pasha added four aces and nine digs, and she served at 100 percent on 15 attempts.
“Brooke served really well, and Era Pasha served really well that night. Era’s been doing a nice job serving for us,” Heitz said.
Jenna Martin tallied three aces and nine digs, and she served at 100 percent on 12 attempts. Katie Gundersen had three aces off of the bench and errored on just one of her nine serves.
Veronika Gorski had six kills and two blocks while Kayli Garcia and Haley Larrabee each added five kills. Olivia Carpenter had 23 assists in the win.
OCT. 16—The Lady Knights had their struggles, but they swept the Falcons in three close sets.
“I thought Kayli Garcia and Veronika Gorski played really well,” Heitz said.
Southington made more errors than Avon, but the Lady Knights held a big block advantage over the Falcons. Garcia tied for the team high in kills with nine and total blocks with four (all solo). Gorski contributed six kills and also produced four blocks (two solo, two assist). Martin had three total blocks (one solo, two assist) to go along with her five kills and 12 digs.
Southington saw an eight-point lead trimmed to four in the first set before claiming a 25-20 win.
Avon proved to be even tougher in the second set when it erased a seven-point deficit and tied the set at 17-17 and again at 20-20. The Lady Knights went ahead by two points, only to see their lead cut to a single point at 22-21 and 24-23. A Garcia block handed Southington a 25-23 victory in the second set.
The Falcons jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the third set, and Heitz decided it was time to make changes.
“We made a couple adjustments,” Heitz said. “At the beginning of set three, we were down right off the bat, so we just tried to change things up a bit, and it seemed like we grabbed some momentum.”
The Lady Knights went on a 14-4 run to claim a 15-8 lead. Avon battled back to within two points at 20-18 and 22-20, but a Larrabee spike and two Falcon errors gave Southington a 25-20 win in the third set and a 3-0 victory in the match. Larrabee had nine kills and seven digs, Carpenter tallied 20 assists and Mackenzie Coppola added 11 assists.
A sweep of Hall
OCT. 19—The Lady Knights took care of the Warriors in three sets in a home victory. The set scores were 25-11, 25-15 and 25-21.
Cooney led Southington with eight kills. Gorski tallied seven kills and two blocks while Garcia added seven kills. Larrabee totaled five kills and seven digs while Lynsey Danko recorded three aces and 17 digs. Carpenter had 21 assists while Coppola added 12 assists.
Up next: Southington played on the road Monday against a red-hot Conard team. The Chieftains are 14-2 and have won 13 straight since starting the season at 1-2 (including a loss to the Lady Knights in the season opener). Southington hosted Norwich Free Academy on Tuesday, then traveled to Northwest Catholic on Thursday.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com.