Girls Volleyball is killing it: 2 sweeps, John Jay tourney quarterfinals

Kayli Garcia, left, scores a block during a 3-0 victory over Tolland on Sept. 16.

By KEVIN ROBERTS

STAFF WRITER

Southington girls volleyball didn’t allow an opponent to get beyond 16 points in either of its two regular season matches last week.

The Lady Knights blew past Tolland and Hall at home on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18 by identical 3-0 scores. On Saturday, Southington took a step up in competition when it played in the NY-CT Invitational at John Jay High School in Cross River, N.Y. The Knights made the quarterfinal round of the gold bracket before being eliminated.

Here’s what happened last week:

Easy win over Tolland

SEPT. 16—The Knights made quick work of the short-handed Eagles, who were missing two starters due to injury. The set scores were 25-8, 25-12, 25-10.

“They were without two starters, so it’s difficult when you have those pieces missing,” Heitz said. “I was glad that our girls played our game. Everyone played well, we played calm, we played with poise. We played at our level, and I was happy to see that.”

Brooke Cooney had 13 kills and three aces while Katie D’Agostino had seven kills without a hitting error in 10 attempts. Katie Gundersen had four kills and four aces while Mackenzie Coppola added 13 assists and four aces. Southington tallied 18 aces in the victory.

Victoria Zajda tallied 19 assists, Rachel Possidento had three aces, Kayli Garcia added two blocks and Isabell Myrick recorded eight digs.

“I thought both setters did a decent job of spreading the ball,” Heitz said. “We’ve been working a lot on our sets, and I thought our sets were better tonight with both of them.”

The good sets allowed Cooney and D’Agostino to pound away with big hit after big hit. Tolland struggled digging the powerful swings of Southington, and the home team took full advantage of it.

Sweep of Hall

SEPT. 18—The Knights breezed past the Warriors, whose head coach just had a baby and wasn’t at the match. The set scores were 25-8, 25-16, 25-12.

Cooney again paced Southington with nine kills and nine digs while Possidento added seven kills and two blocks. Gundersen totaled six kills and six aces while Zajda added 15 assists. Coppola tallied 16 assists and four aces while Kaley Smith added 11 digs and two aces. Garcia contributed two blocks for the second straight match.

Southington recorded 15 aces in the win.

“I was pleased that we played our game,” Heitz said. “Sometimes in this sport, you got to be cautious about when you feel you’re the better team and playing to the level of the opponent. I think we played our game throughout the match pretty well, and I think the kids felt the same way.”

John Jay tourney

SEPT. 21—The Knights advanced to the gold bracket of the tournament before losing in the quarterfinal round.

“I told the kids we were in the top six out of 20 teams here, so we did pretty good,” Heitz said.

Southington went 5-3 over eight sets in its pool, which included Farmington, along with Walter Panas, Ardsley and Horace Greeley from New York. The Knights finished second in the pool. Southington split two sets against Panas, Ardsley and Farmington, and took two sets from Greeley.

In the quarterfinal round of the gold bracket, Southington played against North Rockland, N.Y., which wound up playing the host John Jay-Cross River in the final. North Rockland was the No. 3 seed and Southington the No. 6. The Knights lost the one-set matchup, 25-20, and were eliminated.

“I told the kids a couple points go the other way, it could have been a different outcome, so I was kind of pleased with how we finished up on the day,” Heitz said.

In that final set against North Rockland, Coppola picked up three quick points for the Knights with her serving. Smith tallied seven digs and played well, according to Heitz.

Some notable performances from the John Jay tournament:

  • Walter Panas (1-1): Garcia had three kills and two block assists and Gorski had three block assists
  • Ardsley (1-1): Gundersen had eight kills and three aces and Cooney had seven kills and six digs
  • Greeley (2-0): Coppola had five aces on 13-of-14 serving
  • Farmington (1-1): Garcia had three solo blocks
  • North Rockland (0-1): Cooney had three kills, two aces and two digs; Coppola had eight assists; and Era Pasha had six digs

Other Connecticut teams that played in the tournament were East Lyme, Amity, Newtown, Ridgefield and East Haven. Southington and East Lyme were the only Connecticut teams to advance to the gold bracket.

Up next: Southington continues its trek on the road this week with two matches. The Knights played at Simsbury on Wednesday. Southington is at Conard on Friday at 6 p.m.

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com

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