Raiders volleyball overcomes slow start, moves into semi-finals against Woodland.
TORRINGTON: Who doesn’t like a good routine and on the flip side, don’t you hate it when that consistency is missing?
Playing volleyball on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. is not the norm for the Torrington Raiders girls’ team and it took them a bit to get adjusted to the time change, even before we do it officially later on tonight.
So when the third seeded Raiders dropped the first set to Holy Cross by a 25-23 final, head coach Christine Gamari had a conversation with them before game two that basically told the home team to remember where they were and to figure out how to right the ship themselves.
“I’ve come to learn as a coach that I can’t go out there and do things for them,” Gamari said, “It’s ultimately up to them, the six or seven people that rotate into the game to get the job done. They need to rely on each other more than they rely on me to get it done. We (the coaches) have done all the teaching and the learning. It’s about taking what they have learned in practice and executing it.”
Torrington would recover and take the next three games (25-18, 25-11and 25-14) to move on to the NVL semi’s on Tuesday where they will take on Woodland, who got by Ansonia in straight sets on Saturday afternoon.
What was causing the slow start?
“We get a little in our own heads,” Carissa Carbone said, “And I think that’s what happened. It’s the NVL Tournament time and I think we just get kind of amped up and play not like ourselves.”
The Crusaders, who sported a 9-11 regular season record, were shut out by Torrington in their only meeting this year, made some adjustments coming in ad it paid dividends in game one.
“I give credit,” Gamari said, “The first time we played them our middles basically ran right at them and that’s what got a ton of our offense. So they were prepared for that so then we needed to move away from that, move to the outside or work to our right side. So our strategy changed a little bit.”
Neither team would go up by more than three in the first but the visitors pulled ahead at 15-14 and never trailed again. Pulling out the 25-23 win.
In game two, Cross seemed to feed off their early success behind strong play from sophomore Meah Austin, who had a strong net presence and moved out to a 13-7 lead with thoughts of a large upset brewing on the Crusaders sideline.
Torrington may be led by Carbone and senior Caitlyn Cornish but it’s by no means a two player show. Take the second game comeback, started by service runs by Jayleen Colon and Lauren Gaghan who helped turn that 13-7 deficit into a 17-15 lead.
Torrington would finish the game on an 18-5 run that featured a little of everybody with Carbone awakening as the match went on.
“She started out a little slow today,” Gamari said, “With some hitting errors and just finding a groove but you know what I like about her is that if something is not clicking, if her offense is not clicking then she is going to be the best defender on the court or the best server until she can find a way to get back into rhythm.”
In game three, the home team got the separating rally going off the serves of Candyce Jewett, who ran off nine straight points, fueling a dominating 25-11 game three win. It was a mere formality that Torrington would break open a 12-12 game behind the two stars, Cornish and Crabone and scored the matches last 10-points for a 25-14 win.
Up next will be the Hawks who have been a thorn in the Raiders side for a good long time.
“I think with Woodland,” Gamari said, “We never really got past the name on the front of their jerseys. I mean, that was always intimidating to people and we were so close last year, all three times that we played them and finally this year it clicked a little.”
The Hawks beat the Raiders by a 3-2 score in Torrington back on September 23 before Torrington blanked Woodland by a 3-0 score eight days ago.
Why the turnaround in a month?
“When we were playing our game and going at them,” Gamari said, “You could see it in how they reacted to us and we gained some confidence from knowing we could put them in some terrible positions.”
All roads lead to the Seymour Wildcats it would seem, the team who ran through the regular season with a perfect 18-0 record.
What does Torrington need to do to be ready for the ultimate challenge the ‘cats offer?
“We need to clean it up a lot as we go forward through the tournament and then the states,” Gamari said, “But I’m confident that we have a number of weapons, not just a couple or just one.”