Volleyball finishes 4th at John Jay Invitational

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Morgan Raymond beats a Hall defender during a 3-0 conference win on Friday, Sept. 23.
Morgan Raymond beats a Hall defender during a 3-0 conference win on Friday, Sept. 23.

By BRIAN JENNINGS

STAFF WRITER

After winning the silver bracket at last year’s John Jay Invitation at John Jay High School in Cross River, N.Y., the Lady Knight volleyball team returned to this year’s tournament with much more intensity.

On Saturday, Sept. 24, Southington rebounded from a loss in the opening round to win four straight before finally getting bested in the championship rounds. The Knights placed fourth in the gold bracket out of 14 teams.

“Our goal going into it was to qualify for the playoffs in the gold bracket,” said Southington coach Rich Heitz. “It was a great day for the kids to bond together, and we learned a little bit more about ourselves. We struggled in the beginning, but fought through it and were playing some hard volleyball by the end of the day.”

Southington began the tournament by falling in straight sets to Pelham Memorial, N.Y., 25-12, 25-22, in their opening match.

Then the Knights went on a 4-0 run, including 2-0 victories over NFA (25-19, 25-18), Ardsley, N.Y. (25-15, 25-19), and Newtown (25-18, 25-17).

After the initial round-robin play, Southington received the No. 4 seed in the gold bracket. The Knights defeated Kennedy Catholic (New York), 1-0 [25-23], in the quarterfinals before falling to Massapequa (New York), 1-0 [25-12] in the semifinals.

“The team was huge with 6-foot-three and six-foot-four kids, but we had a lot of fun playing against that type of competition,” said Heitz. “The Joel Barlow coach [Carol Asplund] told me that they were legitimate to being a No. 3 team.”

During the preliminary contests on the day, Southington finished 6-2 overall and was 7-3 on the day.

Win vs. Hall

SEPT. 23—A day earlier on Friday, the Knights achieved their third win of the season with a 3-0 victory (25-18, 25-17, 25-11) over divisional opponent Hall.

“Hall is gradually getting better after bringing in a new coach a few years ago,” said Heitz. “We had some nice rallies and did some good things. I’m starting to see more consistent hitting and serving as we hit our spots. It was a good team effort.”

Morgan Raymond and Megan Mahon (5 assists, 3 blocks) paced the offense with eight kills each. Raymond also anchored the defense with 10 digs and went 8-for-9 from the service line with four aces. Kelly Kritz (6 kills, 4 digs) went 11-for-11 from the line with three aces, Stephanie Zera dished out 18 assists, Nolyn Allen finished with nine digs, and Hannah Zelina (6 kills) contributed with three blocks.

Southington is currently 3-2 overall and 2-1 in the CCC Central Blue. Looking at standings, the Knights are tied for 17th out of 36 teams in Class LL, tied for 12th out of 33 teams in the CCC, and third out of five teams in the CCC Central Blue.

The Knights will look for more wins this week with games against South Windsor (2-5) and Simsbury (5-1).

To comment on this story or to contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at bjennings@southingtonobserver.com.