By KEN MORSE
Learning to compete does have its share of growing pains associated with the process. The Plainville volleyball team felt the sting of that reality last Friday in a heart wrenching, 3-2 loss to Old Lyme.
“I’m so proud of these girls. They left it all on the court,” said Plainville coach Bob Moffo. “Yes, we are disappointed not coming out of here with a win, but they have every reason to hold their heads high. They played their hearts out.”
The Blue Devils were pounding on the door twice, being at game point, and ended up on the short end both times. Old Lyme had enough left in its tank to escape with a win over a very determined Plainville team. The set scores were 25-13, 12-25, 26-24, 20-25, 17-15.
Volleyball is a game marked by ebbs and flows, and the Wildcats of Old Lyme had it going on in game one. The visitors pulled out to an 11-5 advantage and then just stepped on the throttle winning handily by a 25-13 margin.
After not being able to do anything right in game one the Blue Devils came back with a flurry and could do no wrong. Olivia Gajor stepped into serve and rattled off a run that built a quick, 8-1 lead.
Every time Plainville needed something to happen there was Gajor (28 service points, 15 assists, 10 dig saves and 9 aces) to get the job done. Katherine Tanguay (12 kills, 11 service points, 3 blocks) and Wiktoria Galazyn (12 kills, 7 service points) went to work in the front row.
The team focus was razor sharp as evidence of two consecutive balls played off the net from Gajor and Tanguay only to have Annie Roux come from the back row to send it back over the net.
The rather easy 25-12 win tied the match at one game each and it was on to game three where the match was essentially won or lost. Gajor again served up the lead putting the Blue Devils out in front, 8-3.
Margaret Cronkhite (10 digs) and Kaylie Hall (6 digs) were doing their part in the middle row, but Old Lyme got a run going and pulled ahead, 16-14. The marathon game continued with seven ties and five lead changes down the stretch.
The match was tied at 23-23 when Tanguay served up a ball that Gajor set up and Mackenzie Alvarado drove to the open floor for a kill and game point. Needing just one more successful return to close the deal, the next one sailed out of bounds.
Getting another crack at the Wildcats seized the opportunity and rattled off an ace and then a deflection that went out of bounds to escape with a 26-24 win and take a 2-1 edge heading into game four.
Coach Moffo kept going to the bench and each time the Blue Devils were making plays a crucial moments. With game four tied at 9-9, Vanessa Xiques came in to shore up the middle row. Alivia Bialko set up Lillian Wazorko with a cross court kill to forge an 11-10 advantage.
But the Wildcats were feeling it and were determined to put an end to this match and not force a game five winner take all. Old Lyme went back out in front 18-16 until Emily Savage made a dig save in the back row that set up Tanguay with the side out kill.
Makayla Caron (13 service points, 16 digs) took over serve and brought the Blue Devils to game point ripping off a seven point run. A return in the net gave Old Lyme the serve back only to have Tanguay set up Galazyn with the game winning kill.
In game five Samantha Barbagallo (14 digs) the libero defensive specialist was all that and then some coming up with 9 dig saves from the back row. Plainville held a slim 6-5 lead until the Wildcats went on a run trying to close it out.
The eight-point flurry survived two Plainville timeouts before Tanguay took an assist from Cronkhite and drove it to the open court for a side out. Old Lyme was at game point and it appeared over but someone forgot to tell the Blue Devils.
Tanguay took up serve and began tearing off point after point and before you knew it the Blue Devils were at game point holding a 15-14 lead. Plainville was called for a double hit and the serve went back to Old Lyme.
The Wildcats didn’t waste the opportunity as a pair of returns landed out of bounds and what looked like a stunning comeback turned into a tough loss for the Blue Devils.
“They are learning to compete, and this was a good test for us after facing three teams in row that are 5-1,” said Moffo. “Now we just need to learn how to finish. We were at game point twice and lost them both. It’s a lesson to be learned.”
Plainville is back at it on Tuesday hosting Middletown and will be on the road Wednesday against Rocky Hill and again on Friday at Enfield.