By KEVIN ROBERTS
The Southington girls volleyball team has had a very successful run under coach Rich Heitz. There have been undefeated regular seasons in conference play, but an entire regular season without a loss is a much rarer feat. With wins over Conard, NFA and NW Catholic in the final week of the 2018 regular season, the Lady Knights finished at 18-0.
It’s the first undefeated regular season for Southington since 2004, when it also went 18-0. The Lady Knights were 17-1 in 2008, 2010 and 2011.
Southington started the week on Oct. 22 with a 3-1 road win over a Conard team that had won 13 straight matches. The Lady Knights then took down NFA 3-0 on Senior Night on Oct. 23. Southington capped the regular season with a 3-0 road win over NW Catholic.
The Lady Knights spent this week playing in the CCC Tournament.
Here’s more on each game from last week:
Conard streak stopped
OCT. 22—The Lady Knights found themselves playing one of the hottest teams in the conference and the state in their own gym, but managed to win in four sets. The set scores were 25-17, 25-13, 25-27 and 25-18.
The Southington win clinched a CCC West Region Colonial Division title, the fourth division crown in a row for the program.
“This gave the girls the banner, because it was between us and Conard for who was going to win the banner,” Heitz said. “This gave them the banner, and they can hang the 2018 up there, but we’ve got some other things that we want to work on.”
Conard lost one of its top hitters just minutes into the opening set with an ankle injury, but still gave Southington a battle, especially in the third set.
“They came out and played with some emotion for the next few points [after the injury], but we were able to push through,” Heitz said.
Southington used hits from Haley Larrabee and Veronika Gorski, and final tip from Olivia Carpenter, to finish the first set in its favor and grab a 1-0 lead in the match. The Lady Knights rolled to a 12-point victory in the second set and looked poised for a sweep, but the Chieftains had other ideas in the third set.
“We toyed with a couple changes in set three and spotted them a 6-0 lead. When you do that against a team like that, it’s tough to battle back,” Heitz said. “We had a couple opportunities late to close it and they took it 27-25. I thought their ball control was a lot better than the first time we played them.”
Southington and Conard battled in the fourth set before the visitors pulled away. Two spikes from Larrabee and one from Jenna Martin turned a tenuous four-point lead into a 25-18 win and a sweep. Lynsey Danko led the Lady Knights with five aces and 34 digs. Brooke Cooney posted nine kills, 13 digs and two aces while Larrabee added eight kills, 17 digs and two aces. Carpenter chipped in 33 assists, five aces and nine digs.
“We served really well at Conard [Monday]night,” Heitz said. “Conard is always really difficult to serve at because the gym is a lot bigger. We served like 88-89 percent.”
Senior night sweep
OCT. 23—The Lady Knights knocked off the visiting Wildcats in straight sets in a non-conference matchup.
Before the match, seniors Carpenter, Larrabee, Martin, Danko and Keishla Rosario were honored for their contributions to the program. Southington fell behind 12-9 in the first set, but rallied for the win. The Lady Knights led 15-10 in the second set before tallying 10 of the final 12 points to finish the set and take a 2-0 lead in the match.
Two aces from Larrabee and one from Carpenter helped Southington jump out to a 5-1 lead in the third set. NFA battled back to tie a couple times and was within 19-16 when the Lady Knights began their final run to end the set and the match. Southington scored six of the final seven points to pull away.
“I thought Liv played nice. She played some good defense, she served well, her sets were a little more consistent,” Heitz said. “I thought Lynsey played well, she played really well last night. I thought Brooke played well.”
Carpenter had five aces and 30 assists. Danko tallied three aces, as did Larrabee and Cooney. Larrabee also had eight kills and 11 digs while Martin added 10 digs.
SHS finishes undefeated
OCT. 25—The Lady Knights wrapped up their undefeated regular season with a win in straight sets over the host Lions in West Hartford. The set scores were 25-12, 25-14 and 25-6.
Southington served up a season-high 23 aces, led by an astounding total of 10 from Larrabee (she also had 8 kills). Martin contributed five aces, seven kills and eight digs while Cooney tallied three aces and five kills. Danko also had three aces while Gorski added five kills. Carpenter tallied 35 assists in three sets.
Up next: Southington looks to battle its way through the CCC Tournament final. The Lady Knights were scheduled to play first and quarterfinal round matches on Monday and Tuesday at home. The semifinal round was scheduled for Thursday and the final is slated for Friday. Both the semifinals and final are being played at Avon High School.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com