By John Goralski
After a string of three straight 3-2 decisions, the Blue Knight boys volleyball team earned a reprieve last week with a trio of 3-0 sweeps.
Southington cruised past Bulkeley-Hartford Public in three lopsided sets. The boys went on to beat Xavier in a closer competition, but it was the 3-0 win over Newington that grabbed the attention of Coach Lou Gianacopolos.
On the road, it took five games to secure a Southington win. At home, it took three intense battles.
“It’s always competitive when it’s Newington and Southington,” said the coach. “It’s the CCC, and everybody knows how important it is.”
Still, it wasn’t easy. The first game was a see saw battle that went to 30 points before Southington could take a two-point advantage. In the second game, the Knights took the lead, 25-24, and it was Newington’s first deficit since 0-1.
“We started off with six next violations in game one, and that really put us in the hole,” said Gianacopolos. “Then, you add one or two little errors here and there that you usually make anyway, and it makes for trying to get out of a really big hole.”
It wasn’t until the Knights began to siphon their offense through their middles that Southington began to pull away. Alex Borofsky (4 blocks) and Jeff Kolb (2 blocks) collected eight kills apiece as the middles sparked the Knight comeback.
“When we were down late in the game like that, it’s tough to get back,” said the coach. “You can’t go point for point. You’ve got to be kind of aggressive without being reckless, and there were a couple of swings that we did tonight to put us in that hole. We would have normally rolled it, tipped it, or put it somewhere more difficult for them to play, but some of our hitters decided to try to make something out of it. That was the difficult part.”
Nick Powell had 9 kills with two blocks and 7 digs. Chris Sherwill finished with 10 kills and 7 digs. Alex Zajda scored 36 assists and nine digs. Dave Shaughnessy and Kevin Casserino had nine digs apiece as the Knights rallied to a 25-18 win in game three to clinch the series.
“We just went 3-0 against a really good team, but we still have a lot more learning to do,” said the coach. “This team has its areas that we struggle, which means that we have room to improve and get stronger for the postseason.”
The victory came on the heels of two more lopsided wins.
On Monday, the Knights rolled past Bulkeley, 25-11, 25-13, and 25-17. Zajda and Peter Masters combined for 27 assists in the victory. Powell had six kills, and Dan Connolly scored five kills and anchored the defense with 10 digs. Borofsky anchored the middle with four blocks.
On Wednesday, Zajda (5 digs) distributed 25 assists to nine different teammates as Southington swept past Xavier, 25-15, 25-20, and 25-16.
Powell managed five kills, five aces, and five digs in the short contest. Sherwill scored 10 kills. Borofsky had five kills, and Kolb anchored the middle with six blocked shots.
With the victories, the Knights improved to 10-2 overall and 5-1 in the CCC South. Southington will face a trio of non-conference opponents this week before trying to avenge their only conference loss with a rematch against Glastonbury on May 20.