By KEVIN ROBERTS
Southington boys volleyball won twice this past week to improve to 4-0 on the season heading into Monday’s showdown at Farmington. Coach Lou Gianacopolos said the Blue Knights will have to speed up their practices to be ready for faster teams, and he included the Indians among those teams, along with Newtown and Staples.
“We’ve got to face Farmington. Farmington is another good team who is going to be tough,” Gianacopolos said after a 3-0 win over Maloney on April 8.
Southington followed up the Maloney win with a 3-0 victory over non-conference foe Oxford on April 10. Both matches were played in the friendly confines of the Walt Lozoski Gymnasium. The Knights beat the Spartans 25-8, 25-18, 25-17 on April 8, then topped the Wolverines by scores of 25-17, 25-14, 25-23 on April 10.
Southington had too much for Maloney, which fell to 0-4 after the loss, but it wasn’t smooth sailing. The Knights were inconsistent with their hitting against the Spartans, which helped the visitors stay in the last two sets. Southington had 23 total kills to 15 errors.
Rocco Possidento had three kills and two blocks, and Gianacopolos said he would like Possidento to see the ball more.
“Every time we get him the ball, he’s been able to do something with it, or not make an error,” Gianacopolos said.
For Gianacopolos, it’s not always about “terminating” a point with a kill.
“We talk about hitting percentages. If you can’t take a ball and rip it for a point, put it somewhere to let their defense make a mistake, or we’re going to block it for a point, or possibly dig it and have another go at it,” Gianacopolos said. “We don’t want to be a terminating guy, a guy who terminates the ball and ends the play, not always.”
Brandon Wolff had six kills with just one error, plus a block.
“He was solid as well. He did very well with the ball,” Gianacopolos said.
Another player who had a good evening was Alex Bush. Bush, a junior, played for injured senior Brett Hunter and fared well in the eyes of his coach.
“[Alex] had never been into a varsity match, but our middle is injured, so he was out today,” Gianacopolos said. “[Alex] stepped in, and he did fine. He got four kills, and it was great to see him do what he did.”
Senior captain Zack Morgan had 21 assists, and he is someone who is receptive to critiques from his coaches.
“If you do well, we’re looking for how can we be better. If he does great, how can he be a little better,” Gianacopolos said.
When Southington took the court for Oxford, the play was much better. Senior captain Tim Walsh had 14 kills and made just one error, and fellow senior Adam Hunter tallied 10 kills. Possidento recorded seven kills without an error, and Morgan passed out 39 assists. Morgan had only one ball-handling error in 75 attempts. Adam Hunter had 14 digs while John Idian added 11 digs.
It wasn’t just the setting and hitting that helped the Knights win.
“We set well today, we hit well, and we were digging balls that we normally don’t dig,” Gianacopolos said. “Having that guy hit against us and us digging it was a key turning point.”
Wolff had six kills, but more important was his efforts against Mucherino at the net.
“Brandon Wolff didn’t have a spectacular offensive night, but was he solely responsible for Pat, their big hitter, and he was slowing him down,” Gianacopolos said. “That was awesome, he did a good job on him.”
Brett Hunter returned to the lineup for the Knights and played well, Gianacopolos said. Gianacopolos said things are starting to click a lit bit more for Southington. It was good timing for the Knights, who had a big test on Monday at Farmington. The Knights were scheduled to host Hall on Wednesday and Enfield on Thursday.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com.