By KEVIN ROBERTS
There was a big contrast in how Southington girls volleyball played in its first two matches of the 2019 season.
In the season opener at Masuk on Sept. 12, the Lady Knights got down and didn’t get back up in a 3-1 loss. The set scores were 25-20, 22-25, 25-20, 25-12.
Southington didn’t have time to stew about the loss. On Sept. 13, the Knights took on a tough Bristol Central squad inside the Walt Lozoski Gymnasium in the home opener.
“We didn’t have much time to prepare, and we knew they were going to be good,” coach Rich Heitz said. “They returned a lot from last year, and they’ve got some good players. [Emily] Ericson’s a very good player, and they moved her to the outside, so we had to adjust to that.”
A different attitude was present with Southington against Bristol Central. The Knights took what the Rams could dish out and wound up with a 3-1 win. The set scores were 25-21, 25-19, 23-25, 25-23.
“I was happy with the way that we persevered against Bristol Central,” Heitz said. “It was their first night out, so they probably had a little bit of butterflies, but the last two sets, it could have been anybody’s game.”
The difference against Bristol Central was when Southington got down, it got back up.
“We battled. When we got down, we never got out,” Heitz said. “We would get down 6-7 points, and we just battled back. When that happened at Masuk, we didn’t do that. Hopefully we learned from that Masuk game.”
Brooke Cooney led the Knights in the Central win with eight kills and 16 digs. Veronika Gorski had eight kills, Era Pasha added a team-high 17 digs, Mackenzie Coppola tallied 17 assists and Victoria Zajda chipped in 13 assists. Ericson led the Rams with 13 kills, and Ashleigh Clark added 25 assists.
Gorski had one hitting error in 15 attempts against Central, and ended the match with a strong hitting percentage of .467. Cooney led Southington with three aces while Pasha, Coppola and Katie D’Agostino each had two aces. Gorski, Katie Gundersen and Kayli Garcia each tallied two blocks.
In the Masuk loss, Gundersen had a team-high four kills while Rachel Possidento led the way with four blocks. Cooney and Coppola each had four aces. The Knights struggled in the opener against the Panthers and were able to win only the second set. Southington fell behind in both the third and fourth sets and couldn’t recover. Josie Maguire led Masuk with 11 kills and five aces, and teammate Ana Castro-Rodriguez added 28 assists.
In the Central win, Southington was able to come back, even though it was the second match in as many days. The Knights showed the perseverance needed in order to have a successful season.
Up next: Southington hosted Tolland on Monday and Hall on Wednesday. The Knights travel to John Jay High School in Cross River, N.Y., on Saturday for an invitational tournament.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com