It's on to the quarterfinals for the THS volleyball team after a 3-0 Class M second round win over Weston.
TORRINGTON: Volleyball is always a game of momentum filled runs by one team or the other. The team that can normally thrive and survive in those situations usually come out on top.
Such was the case on Wednesday night during the Torrington girls’ volleyball Class M second round match against Weston.
The Raiders had taken the opening game of the match by a 25-18 score and opened up an 8-2 lead in game two before the bottom of the game seemingly fell out.
Weston, riding one of those momentum swings behind the serving of senior Melissa Welsh, ran off on a 15-1 run to go up 17-9, threatening to make it a longer night than the home team might have wanted.
Nothing was working for Torrington but an experience from earlier this season helped them remember that no matter the score, it’s the next point that matters most.
Their head coach, Christine Gamari, called time out to settle her team when the run got to 7-1 but had faith that this group could get themselves out of trouble.
“I told them that they are fighters,” Gamari said. “I told them that one ball isn’t going to win it or lose it for us and that we are just going to take it one game at a time. They crawled back and volleyball is a game of momentum and runs. We hit that run right when it counted. We had come back from down two games to none against Naugatuck early in the year.”
The Raiders flipped the script by going on a 15-2 run to close out game two by a final of 25-21 before wrapping up the night with a 25-12 win over the Trojans and a trip to the quarterfinals on Friday when they host No. 8 Tolland who got by Woodland 3-2.
Tolland will be no strangers to comebacks when they face the Raiders, having come back from down two games to none in beating the Hawks in five games (17-25, 13-25, 27-25, 25-9 and 16-14).
Reaching back to that early game and not getting ahead of themselves worked for the home team, who kept the faith and were rewarded.
“We had to get the ball to Jayleen (Colon) so she could get us set up.” senior Carissa Carbone said. “We just had to stay mentally tough and trust ourselves to get out of it and we did.”
Having a coaching staff that pushes them so they are ready for anything, good or bad that may arise is an invaluable experience for the team and Gamari looks to put her team in different situations during practice.
“We call it Situation,” Gamari said. “Sometimes they are behind, sometimes they are behind or sometimes they have a huge lead that they have to fight back against and try to win. We try to mimic some of those situations so when they happen in games, they’re not surprised.”
Also not surprising is how this team is so much like their head coach. A never say die attitude with a competitive fire that drives them towards the excellence they wish to achieve.
We have seen the balance on this team all year. Opponents may try and shut down one weapon, only to see another arise.
On Wednesday night, Carbone and Jolie Fox dominated the net area with nine kills apiece, fed by setter Jayleen Colon (23 assists, 7 digs and 6 aces).
Ali Dubois was all over the floor per normal with seven digs and three kills. One would think Dubois was a catcher rather than one of the best softball pitchers in the state, based on how often she stops balls from hitting the floor. Nothing gets by the senior standout.
Candyce Jewett added 10 digs of her own while Nina Lestrud had a key run during the second game comeback with six consecutive service points.
This team has set some major goals for themselves and so far has been up to the task, running the table in the Naugatuck Valley League regular season (17-0) and sweeping through the NVL Tournament with a dominating 3-0 win over rival Seymour.
If the Raiders get by Tolland on Friday, a trip to the semi-finals would be on deck against either Berkshire League foe Northwestern or Killingly.
On the other side of the Class M bracket, both Granby Memorial (who handed Torrington their only loss this season) and the Wildcats are still alive and kicking.
Three more wins gets goal number three in the books and with the fire and determination this team gets from their stellar coaching staff, it’s hard to put it by them.
One banner, the NVL Tournament banner will hang in the Connie Donahue Gymnasium. The Raiders hope to add another with an even loftier goal achieved.