No let down on Senior Night. Wolcott Tech volleyball sweeps Lewis Mills, 3-0.
TORRINGTON: It’s why it pays to have an assistant coach who is paying attention.
The Wolcott Tech Wildcats were at a critical point in their match against former Berkshire League rival Lewis Mills on Wednesday night, up two games to none but on the brink of losing the third game down, 24-23.
“My assistant coach, Jim Pepper,” head coach Ray Tanguay said, “Reminded me that we had a time out, so I took it.”
In a back and forth third game, the Spartans battled to stay alive and after consecutive points put them up by that one point, the home team took the advice of one of the best volleyball minds out there to settle down.
Three straight points later, the Wildcats had a three game sweep, 25-23, 25-11 and 26-24 to earn a split of the season series with Mills that saw each team winning on their home court.
Mills may have come in 8-8 on the year but when these two teams meet, that old BL rivalry heats up and on Wednesday night, the Wildcats were not about to let the Spartans spoil their senior night.
Normally this can be an emotional night for some teams with focus being the hardest thing for the coaches to reign back in but the Wildcats star, Matt Dell’Agnese was having none of that on his night.
“I think it was easier tonight,” Dell’Agnese said, “My adrenalin was pumping the whole time. I just wanted to win.”
On a night when they said goodbye to six upperclassmen, nerves may have played a part early on as the home team had five unforced errors that prevented them from getting on any kind of run.
With the score tied at eight, and unforced error by Tech propelled the visitors out on a 6-0 run to a 15-9 advantage that stretched to a 17-10 lead after a service error.
Game one wasn’t going to decide this match but it was important that the home team established that they were not going to go easy.
“Believe it or not,” Tanguay said, “These guys, when they are down, play the game, they don’t focus on the score.”
Four service points by senior Ryan Lojewski that were helped by some outstanding net play by fellow twelve grader Evan Gazso pulled the Wildcats within three at 18-15 and a message was sent.
Tech would battle all the way back and ended the game on a 5-0 run to take game one, 25-22.
Game two was called the Taegan Murphy invitational as the senior lefty served the home team out to a 10-0 lead that all but put game two in the bank.
In game one, the Spartans used a strong net game to score off blocks and kills but Tech changed tactics some, changing up when needed. Sometimes the threat of a big hit is all a team needs to throw their opponent off.
Mills was going for the big hits at the net but were over hitting at times, leading to ball out of bounds.
Lojewski had a huge kill to start game two, Dell’Agnese placed a shot into no-mans land while sophomore Dalton Moreau had a timely block during the impressive rally.
Several times during the match, the two teams sustained unbelievable rallies that seemed to go on forever with the option of the ball hitting the crowd unheard of, quality volleyball indeed.
Now, when you have a team down 2-0, the last thing a team wants to do is take their foot off the gas pedal and allow their opponent a chance to make that comeback.
Mills, showing the pedigree of a perennial strong program, jumped out in a hurry in game three by scoring six of the game’s first seven points.
It would have been easy for Tech to drop a game and look to take the match in game four but they gradually fought their way back, tying things up at 12 with an 11-6 run, fueled by Gazso, Dell’Agnese and Murphy.
Game three would go back and forth from there with more memorable points by both team along the way.
A Moreau block would put the home team up 23-22 but the Spartans would take the next two points to get within a point of forcing a game four before a key suggestion was made to the head coach, who as smart enough to take the advice and it paid off.
A nice win for the Wildcats as they look to make some noise in the upcoming state tournament.
“We played as a team,” Dell’Agnese said, “We played together and didn’t shut down. We just listened to our coach and played our game. We can beat anybody right now.”
What was the difference tonight when the Wildcats got down?
“Heart,” Dell’Agnese said, “I think it was all heart. We’ve been down before and we’ve come back. We just know we have to stay focused, drop the last play and once we get a rally going, we’re unstoppable.”
NOTES: Two more games end the regular season, one against Class L power Farmington, a team that beat them in Torrington by a 3-1 final.
Wolcott Tech has pitched 11 shutouts this season and have been taken to five game just once.
They end their regular season against Bloomfield on Thursday, May 28, a day before the rankings come out for state action.