By SPENCER DREHER
After a resounding, comeback victory over Glastonbury on Oct. 17, Southington girls volleyball (7-8) has lost four straight games. After three more losses last week, their losing streak has reached four games, the worst stretch for the program since the 2006 season, when they lost three out of four.
With one of their leading ball handlers, Mackenzie Coppola, not at 100% due to a hand injury, Southington took two tough, 3-0 losses early last week. They looked to turn a corner in their match last Friday when they hosted Conard (14-2). They avoided a third straight shutout with a set three victory and fought in the fourth set, but Conard would prevail to win the match, 3-1.
Here is how last week unfolded:
Loss to Farmington
OCT. 21—Southington battled in the first set against Farmington on Oct. 21. But after the Knights made the score14-17, the Indians scored eight of the next ten points to take the first set.
Southington almost avoided the shutout in the third set as they started on an 11-4 run. However, Farmington would tie it up at 14. After being tied at 20, Farmington won four of the next six points for the narrow 25-22 set win and the 3-0 match win.
“I think the mental game was a big deal in the loss to Farmington,” coach Rich Heitz said. “We let some things affect us and once they pulled away in that first set, we lost belief in ourselves on the court. We just weren’t able to get it done.”
Brooke Cooney had eight kills to go with eight digs, seven assists and a block. Katie Gunderson had five kills as well as a team-leading four aces and a block.
Katie D’Agostino had five kills as well and Isabell Myrick had 14 digs.
Loss to Newington
OCT. 23—The Knights one again kept it close in each set of their 3-0 loss to Newington on Oct. 23. In the first set, they trailed 13-7 at one point but they would narrow Newington’s lead to 15-14. After that, the Indians scored five of the next six points and never looked back to win 25-18.
The Knights only trailed 18-17 in the second set, but Newington would once again pull away late, winning seven of the next ten points to win the set 25-20.
The third set saw bonus volleyball as each team tied it up at 19 through 25. After being notched at 26, back-to-back errors by the Knights took away the chances of a comeback as Newington picked up their fourth straight win.
Kayli Garcia lead the way with seven kills and three blocks. Cooney had 11 assists, eight digs, and three kills. Gunderson had four aces and, a kill, and a block while Victoria Zajda had 13 assists.
Tough Loss to Conard
OCT. 25—Unlike the previous two matches, Southington was able to pick up a set win in a 3-1 loss to Conard last Friday.
After dropping the first two sets, the Knights came back from down 13-7 in the third set and won 25-21. Gunderson provided a big spike and an ace to put Southington up 24-21.
“We did not really change anything in that third set but I think we caught some momentum when we needed to,” Heitz said. “We were down in the third set but Isabell came in and served and we got some points there. Tonight was a game of momentum. Conard is a great team but I think we looked more competitive against them than we did last week.”
Both teams were neck-and-neck for the beginning of the fourth set, as it was all tied at 11. But errors took away the momentum for the Knights as the Chieftains scored ten of the next 11 points and won the set 25-18 for the 3-1 win.
Rachel Possidento and Gunderson each had seven kills for Southington. Coppola had three aces and 12 assists. Veronika Gorski had five blocks while Era Pasha had 18 digs.
Up next: Southington was scheduled to wrap up their regular season tonight at RHAM (13-1). Before that, they were scheduled to play at Hall (6-11) on Monday and host NW Catholic (4-14) on Wednesday.
Farmington, Newington, and Conard are each some of the best teams in the Central Connecticut Conference, but Heitz said that he sees the tough strength of schedule as a benefit for his team as they looked to clinch a state tournament berth this week.
“I think this team can compete with anybody because of our tough schedule,” Heitz said. “We have played some of the best teams in the state. In this league, you have to bring it basically every night. I think that will help us going forward.”
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Spencer Dreher, email him at SDreher@SouthingtonObserver.com.