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Raiders girls volleyball campaign comes to and end in Class L second round versus Avon, 3-1.

POSTED November 14, 2015
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

TORRINGTON: When a team drops the first game of a best of five volleyball match by 13 points and it’s not that close, they hope against hope that it’s not a fast evening and more importantly, a final match of their campaign that will sting for a good long time.

While the Torrington girls volleyball team saw that campaign come to a close in four games against a decidedly taller Avon team by a 3-1 final (25-12, 15-25, 28-26, 25-19), they can take with them into the post season a knowledge that they did not allow that first game to rule the match.

On the contrary, the Raiders, who are a very young bunch, rallied right back in game two to knot things at a game apiece with a strong 25-15 win that was fueled by a 9-0 run after dropping the first two points to the Falcons.

In volleyball, much like in basketball, you can’t teach height and the visitors brought plenty of it with them, led by senior Abigail Laszewski who towered (as she will on the basketball court at 6’4”) over the Raiders front line, making it tough for the Raiders to get much done at the net.

After the Raiders dropped the opening game, a game that they just didn’t seem to have their bearings until it was too late, head coach Christine Gamari did what she did masterfully all year in between games, she motivated them.

“I asked them to find the fight that I knew was in there somewhere deep inside” Gamari said, “And then we just picked up our talking and that picked up our energy level.”

Pick it up they did, rolling to that 9-2 lead that was served out by junior Jayleen Colon who is just one of many standouts coming back in 2016.

Torrington was able to get and keep the lead by not allowing the Falcons to dictate how the game was going to be played, as they did in game one.

“We were most successful when we were breaking up their offense by putting the in tough positions,” Gamari said, “When our passing is on and our offense is on then the other team was off.”

As is usually the case, game three was the critical one and true to form, it went long, with the Falcons able to push through to a 28-26 win.

Torrington held an 8-4 lead but Avon hung around and began chipping into the lead until it became a one or two point lead for the home team right up until the Falcons tied things at 17. From there, a tight game swung back and forth with Laszewski coming up with six kills to keep and eventually put her team over the top for the decisive swing game victory.

If the Raiders manage to hold on in that game, who knows but game four got away fast and while Torrington managed to stay within striking distance, the outcome was never really in doubt.

Looking back with an eye on the future, the Raiders head coach was pleased with how her team performed this season and looks forward to 2016.

“We have one senior (Caitlyn Cornish) and she’ll be a tremendous loss next year,” Gamari said, “But we are bring the rest of them back. A lot of sophomores have seen a lot of time this season so they won’t be new to the varsity level next season. It was a very successful year. I think we finished 18-4. We came together at the end and while we had some high points and low points, I’m looking forward to what we do in the future as well.”

Cornish will be missed for her talent and leadership but the cupboard is hardly bare with a deep and talented unit returning, led by junior Carissa Carbone.

“It was a learning year this year,” Carbone said, “But we’re going to bring it next season, I can tell. We have a lot of young people but this season they put a lot of hard work in.”

Sophomore Candyce Jewett was on the receiving end of many Falcons bombs that she dug out and kept in play while fellow tenth grader Lauren Gaghan became a major contributor for Torrington.

Avon moves on to play on Saturday in the Class L quarterfinals against Bristol eastern at 6 p.m. in Bristol.

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