By SPENCER DREHER
Southington girls volleyball rebounded strongly from a four-game losing skid last week. While they took a loss to RHAM (16-1) later in the week, they picked up 3-0 wins against Hall (6-14) and NW Catholic (4-16) earlier in the week to officially clinch a spot in the class LL tournament.
Finishing the season at 9-9 after a loss Monday night to Conard, the Blue Knights will likely have to travel to a top-10 seed in the first round of the LL tournament, which includes a few conference foes.
Southington is picking up steam at the right time with their two wins last week. Here is how it happened:
Win Over Hall
OCT. 28—Southington had to fight to get through the first set at Hall. The largest lead by either team in the set was a 17-12 lead by Hall. But Southington would storm back, thanks to some key spikes by Veronika Gorski and Kayli Garcia.
After having the lead at 24-21, Hall almost climbed back into it after two errors by the Knights. But a Rachel Possidento strike gave them the set-winning point and Southington would cruise through the next two sets en route to the 3-0 win. The win stopped Hall’s two-game winning streak.
Possidento led the team on the night with nine kills to go with two aces. Katie D’agostino had six kills and three aces while Gorski had seven kills. Era Pasha had a team-leading five aces and was perfect on 16 serve attempts.
Mackenzie Coppola had 28 assists in the win.
Win over NW Catholic
OCT. 30—Southington was in control all match in a lopsided 3-0 win over NW Catholic on the Knights’ senior night. Southington almost blew a 13-6 lead in the second set but they scored five of the final seven points in the 25-19 win.
The Knights won, 25-12, in the first set and, 25-7, in the match-winning set. The score in the first set was 21-6 at one point.
Brooke Cooney led the team with 10 kills and seven aces. It was her fourth game this season with at least 10 kills and her third game with at least five aces. Katie Gunderson had seven kills to go with five aces. D’agostino had six aces while Coppola had five aces and 22 assists.
“We served real well in those wins earlier last week,” coach Rich Heitz said. “Senior night was really fun and the seniors played loose. As a senior class, they all showed good leadership. Playing high school sports is about the relationships you build. I think the seniors did a good job creating positive relationships on the team, and that is important.”
Loss to RHAM
NOV. 2—Southington had chances in the first and second set in a 3-0 loss at RHAM last Saturday. Despite trailing, 20-13, in the first set, the Knights climbed back into it and shrunk their deficit to 23-20, thanks in part to several key spikes from Cooney and Gunderson.
While Southington scored two more points after that, so did the Sachems as they took the set 25-22.
In the second set, Southington was trailing by just two at 17-15. But RHAM scored 8 of the final 11 points to take the set 25-18.
“Sustaining the intensity and the aggressiveness is what we have been trying to do, especially in those close sets,” Heitz said. “In some sets and some matches, we come out a little flat. When they go against each other in practice, they go hard. But sometimes, they take a little off and we are trying to do a better job with that.”
The Sachems got out to a 15-5 lead in the third set and never looked back as they recorded their 13th shutout win of the season.
Possidento had six kills and one block while Gorski had four kills and a block of her own. Cooney, Gunderson, and D’agostino each recorded five kills. Coppola had two aces to go with 24 assists.
Loss To Conard
NOV. 4—Southington also had chances to take a set or two in their 3-0 loss at Conard on Monday in the regular season finale. The Knights were up, 16-10, in the third set and also led, 22-20, later on. After Southington had set point at 24-23, Conard scored three straight points to get the shutout, something they were unable to do at Southington on Oct. 25.
The Knights also had a chance in the second set after they tied it at 19. After making the score 21-22, Conard scored three of the final four points for another set win decided by less than five points.
Gorski had three kills and was credited with both of Southington’s blocks on the night. Possidento had six kills while Gunderson and D’agostino each added five kills. Coppola had 23 assists and four aces while Pasha had three aces of her own.
“The big difference (against Conard) was that we did not pass well,” Heitz said. “We put a lot of pressure on our setter for most of the night. We did a little better with that in set three. In that last set, we lost 26-24. We were right there against a team that was 16-2. Some things just didn’t go our way. We were pushed and we want to be pushed with the conference we play in. Next time out, we will try to respond better.
Up next: In the next time out, Southington will compete in the first round of the class LL tournament on Monday on the road. Official rankings for the tournament were released this week.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Spencer Dreher, email him at SDreher@SouthingtonObserver.com.