By KEVIN ROBERTS
There’s an old adage that it’s hard to beat a team three times in the same season, so it figures that it would be even harder to beat a team four times, right? On May 31, Southington boys volleyball dispatched Conard for the fourth time this spring.
The Blue Knights defeated the Chieftains 3-0 in each of their three previous meetings, including a quarterfinal round win the CCC Tournament. This match was in the Class L quarterfinal round, and coach Lou Gianacopolos expected a battle from the visitors.
“I told them: Be prepared for a loud, energetic team that’s really happy to be there,” Gianacopolos said.
The top-seeded Knights again won 3-0 over eighth-seeded Conard, but the final score is deceiving. The Knights won the first set 25-15, but the Chieftains led 24-21 in the second set. Conard was playing with a ton of energy and had three set points, but Southington picked up five straight points to take the set 26-24. The Knights claimed the third set 25-16 to wrap up the match and improve to 22-0 on the season.
“We find ways to win. We just happened to have that rotation at one of our strengths, and we go from there,” Gianacopolos said about the second set. “We were down in that game, that could have easily gone Conard’s way.”
Southington was scheduled play fourth-seeded Staples on Tuesday in a Class L semifinal match at Oxford High School. The Wreckers are the defending Class L state champions.
“They have a great setter, just like we have, they have good attackers, just like we have,” Gianacopolos said of Staples.
Tim Walsh led Southington with 17 kills to go along with his two aces and seven digs. Zack Morgan tallied 25 assists, four digs, one solo block, one block assist, and he was 10-for-12 serving. Adam Hunter recorded five kills, one ace (10-for-13 serving), six digs and two block assists. Rocco Possidento was huge in the middle with four kills, three solo blocks and four block assists. Brandon Wolff had three block assists while Brett Hunter added two block assists. Justin Miranda tallied three aces on 14-for-17 serving, and John Idian had 13 digs. It was the final home match for Southington seniors Walsh, Morgan, Adam Hunter, Brett Hunter, Possidento, Idian and Justin Miranda.
“It’s a good match to go into the semis,” Gianacopolos said about Conard. “They’re a big team, a big blocking team.”
Southington’s next test was one against a team it played in a preseason scrimmage. Tuesday’s match was for real, and it was for a berth in the state final on Thursday night at Shelton High School.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com