By PHIL BRODSKY
Orange Live Sports Writer
At the conclusion of Monday night’s Southern Connecticut Conference inter-divisional volleyball game where Jonathan Law came from behind to upset Amity 3-2 (19-25, 28-26, 22-25,25-19, 15-13), Lady Spartan Coach Paul Thees stood at the scorer’s table staring blankly into space—not saying a word. While Thees remained silent for several long, silent seconds, anyone could easily read the frustration that was clearly written across his face.
Following those long, silent seconds, Thees finally said, “I have no answers to what happened here tonight. I don’t know what to say. We had a game plan which we followed in the first gamed and won that game, but after that, we went away from it. The girls were told where to hit the ball but they chose to do differently after the first game. If you don’t follow the game plan, you take the game into your own hands. We were up 2-1 but could never close things out.”
With Amity holding a 7-6 lead in Game No. 4, Law erupted and went on an 8-1 run and turned its one point deficit into a six point lead (14-8). During that run, The Golden Eagles’ Caitlin Prete banged home three of her match-high 20 kills. During that same run, Amity made a number of unforced errors. With the Lady Spartans continuing to be their own worst enemy, Prete soon landed two more kills to wrap up the game and tie the match at 2-2.
The fifth and decisive game began with Prete once again leading the Milfordites. Twice she caught Amity off guard by softly dumping the ball over the net for points. While the Lady Spartans crawled back within a point (9-8) on a pair of kills and two service aces by Allison Denny and then knotted the score on consecutive kills by Sydnee Sousa, they would never take the lead. The game and match ended with a pair of Jessica Ruiz kills and a hitting violation against Amity.
According to Law Coach Stacy Loch, “We played and lost to Amity in the first match of the season, but now, we’re a completely different team. We changed things and improved a lot. We knew that this was a key match for us. We were 7-9 and needed one more win to qualify for States, but did not want it to come down to us having to win that last match to qualify.”
Amity had the upper hand and dominated the first game from start to finish. Early kills by Amanda Vecchio and Kristen Post along with a pair of aces from Kathryn Pisano staked the Lady Spartans to a quick 4-0 lead. Additional pairs of aces from Vecchio and Sousa and a dink from Sousa extended Amity’s advantage to 12-2. Thanks to three kills from Jenna Bernard and Hayley Soulier’s off-speed dink, Jessica Ruiz’s ace and another Prete blast to the floor, the Eagles battled back with a 9-2 response that chopped Amity’s lead back to only three points (14-11). That however would be as close as the Golden Eagles would get. Fired up by four five Denny kills and an ace along with Sousa’s four kills, Amity soon closed out its 25-19 first game victory.
The second contest was a see-saw affair from start to finish and included 12 deadlocks and neither team able to open up more than a three point lead. With the game tied at 26-26, Prete landed a pair of aces to give the visitors the win.
The third game began in much the same fashion as the second, but with the tally tied at 8-8, Amity broke loose for a 9-3 run that featured Denny and Sousa each landing a pair of kills. In addition Denny and Pisano dropped in an ace.
Down but not out, Jonathan Law clawed back with scoring spikes from Tarah Kelly, Ruiz, and Jenna Bernard and got within a point (21-20). Denny regained the momentum for her team with two more kills. Vecchio then added a game-ending score.
With the fourth game knotted at 7-7, it was Law’s turn to break away. Led by pairs of kills from Prete and Kelly, the Eagles soared off on a 7-1 spurt that gave them a 14-8 advantage. Amity was never able to recover from that Law surge and reduce its deficit. After the two teams traded points, another Prete blast ended the contest and set the stage for the fifth and decisive game.
“It’s always emotional when we play Amity,” Loch Said. “I’m so proud of my girls for pulling this one out.”
Thees countered, “I was constantly encouraging my girls and constantly reminding them to stick with our game plan, but we ran into a team wanted it more than we did. It meant more to them then to us. Considering this was our Senior Night, we should have wanted it more than we did. The match meant nothing to us as far as the SCC goes but it could end up hurting our state tournament ranking.”
In addition to her 20 kills, Prete recorded 28 digs and five service aces. Colleen Bogucki added 43 assists and 27 digs. Rachel Hannan chipped in with another 19 digs for the winners.
Amity (now 13-4) cashed out with Denny posting 17 kills and 11 digs. Sousa put a dozen shots to the floor and was good ion 14 of her 15 serves with a pair of aces. Vecchio added 10 kills and was successful on all but one of her 18 serves with two aces. Claire Foster chipped in with a team-leading 18 digs and was nine of 10 serving, while Jenna Pisano recorded 12 digs. In addition to her 38 assists, Kathryn Pisano was a perfect 18 of 18 from the service line with two aces. Liz Marino dug up 13 shots.
Amity closes out its regular season with a visit to Career on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.