By KEVIN ROBERTS
Southington girls volleyball had a magnificent regular season. In fact, it was a perfect (18-0) regular season, but just two matches into the CCC Tournament, the undefeated run came to an abrupt end.
For the second time in as many matchups against Farmington, Southington went ahead 2-0, only to see the Indians win the third and fourth sets to tie it at 2-2. Unlike the Sept. 19 regular season meeting at Farmington High School, which the Lady Knights won 3-2, the Indians won the fifth set and stunned the top seed by a final of 3-2. The quarterfinal round set scores were 22-25, 18-25, 25-16, 28-26 and 15-10.
Eighth-seeded Farmington moved on in the CCC Tournament. Top-seeded Southington’s No. 1 spot in the CIAC Class LL state tournament wasn’t affected by the early CCC Tournament loss, but it still hurt.
“I talked to them briefly at the end,” coach Rich Heitz said. “It stings, and it should. It hurts, and it should. But if you don’t learn from it, there’s no benefit.”
Senior captain Jenna Martin was already thinking that way.
“We need to work on finishing, and also, I think the loss, although it sucks, did help because now we know what it feels like,” Martin said. “We know we don’t want to lose again, and we got the idea of what it’s like. We got that out of the system and hopefully we’ll do better.”
Martin was able to look back on what Southington accomplished during the regular season with pride.
“That was awesome. I know we’re a great team, and honestly, losing all those seniors, I didn’t think many of us expected to be that good,” Martin said. “I knew we were going to be good because we have a good group of girls, but that was awesome and I’m happy we ended on that note.”
Martin was quick to note that the record reset once the Lady Knights entered the CCC Tournament. Everyone began the 16-team tournament with “no wins, no losses,” Martin said. The same holds true for the Class LL state tournament, which will begin on Nov. 8 for Southington, in the second round at home at 6 p.m. The Lady Knights have a first round bye.
“We got to reset, we’re 0-0 going into the state tournament, and we’ll use it as a learning experience,” Heitz said.
Martin said Southington will be ready for the winner of No. 16 South Windsor and No. 17 Staples.
“We’re going to go hard at practice the next couple days and come back next week strong,” Martin said, “use this toward what we want to do, and hopefully do well, get some wins, close it out this time.”
OCT. 29—The Lady Knights earned a sweep of the Warriors in a matchup of the highest and lowest seeds. The set scores were 25-20, 25-15 and 25-17.
Brooke Cooney led the way with 13 kills. Haley Larrabee had eight kills, 10 digs and three aces while Martin added seven kills, eight digs and two aces. Kayli Garcia totaled five kills and two blocks while Mackenzie Coppola chipped in 33 assists and two aces.
OCT. 30—The Lady Knights had a major case of déjà vu against the Indians, except for the ending.
Southington was once again ahead 2-0 against Farmington, only to watch the visitors win sweep the next three sets and steal a 3-2 victory at Southington High School.
“We let up, we weren’t as aggressive as we needed to be,” Heitz said. “Our ball control and serve receive wasn’t where it needed to be.”
Despite losing the third and fourth sets, Southington went ahead 4-1 and 5-2 in the 15-point fifth set. In the Sept. 19 regular season match, the Lady Knights were ahead by as much as seven points in the fifth set before winning 15-10 and taking the match 3-2. In the CCC quarterfinal, Farmington stormed back from the early three-point deficits and built a 13-8 lead. Southington closed to within 13-10, but got no closer.
“It wasn’t one of our better games, hopefully it’s a lesson,” Heitz said. “At this point in the season, a tough loss like that can hopefully get you refocused and stronger for the rest of the way.”
Chardae Saunders proved to a major thorn in the side of Southington. Farmington was able to get Saunders the ball, and she put it down time and time again. Holly Picchioni also had some timely kills for the Indians.
“Big blocks, huge girls, huge swings,” Martin said. “Yeah, they’re awesome.”
Cooney led Southington with 15 kills, 17 digs and two blocks. Martin had nine kills, five aces and 18 digs while Larrabee added 11 kills and three aces. Veronika Gorski tallied six kills and three blocks while Mackenzie Coppola totaled four aces and nine digs. Coppola and Olivia Carpenter combined for 43 assists, and Lynsey Danko had 30 digs, including some that were spectacular.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com.