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Woodland takes marathon volleyball match from Raiders, 3-2 in NVL semi's.

POSTED October 28, 2014
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

WATERBURY: The volleyball seemed sit on the top of the net for what seemed like an eternity before falling to the hardwood for a point for the team that seemed to have the majority of those balls during a rigorous five set match.

We’re talking about the Torrington girls’ volleyball team playing in another epic five-set marathon they seemed to be out of, after dropping the first two sets to the team they always seem to go five with, the Woodland Hawks.

The Hawks would, for the third time, have just a few more ball go their way as they beat the Raiders by a 3-2 score to move into the Naugatuck Valley League Tournament title game on Thursday night against top ranked Seymour.

After watching these two teams go at it for close to two hours, why hold a final?

The final will be hard pressed to match the intensity or momentum swings this semi-final had.

Woodland won the first two games by scores of 31-29 and 25-19 to put the Raiders on the ropes but head coach Christine Gamari, refused to let her team go down without a fight.

“I challenged them after the first two games,” Gamari said. “I wanted them to just focus on the next game, not worry if we could take it to five.”

The opening game should have clued all of those in attendance that this was not going to be a short night for either team.

Why should it be when the last two matches were also marathons decided by the slightest of margins?

When it comes to going the distance in matches, the Hawks were unbeaten in five tries during the regular season while Torrington dropped three of four long matches, two to Woodland and one to Naugatuck.

The Raiders knocked of the top seeded Wildcats in five sets during the regular season but just did not have that extra point or two in them to make the difference during a stirring semi-final that started with a trend setter in the opener.  

Torrington would take a 20-14 lead on the Hawks in that first game but Woodland chipped away with until they knotted things at 24. Then the fun began. How high could this one go?

The Raiders had a 24-20 lead at one point, one point away from grabbing an all-important game one but the Hawks stormed back to set up some serious volleyball over the next 13 points.

Six straight times, Torrington went up a point, six straight times, the Hawks answered with a winning point before grabbing consecutive points at 29-29 to win, 31-29.

Losing a game like that with so many opportunities can deflate a team and send the other through the roof and in the second game, the air came out of the Raiders game and even though they battled back from an 11-point deficit at one point to get within six, Woodland went up 2-0 with a 25-19 win and a commanding 2-0 lead.

To their credit, Torrington responded to the challenge of their coach, who had been in this kind of matches during her outstanding career with the Raiders and turned it back on during game three.

With the score tied at 5-5, sophomore Carissa Carbone took to the service line and reeled off six straight points and the Raiders never looked back in a 25-19 win.

One down, two to go.

Game four would prove to be far tighter than game three with Woodland grabbing their biggest lead at 14-8 only to see Torrington ride the serves of Miah Giarnese on a 11-2 run to take a 19-15 lead.

The Hawks would battle back though and tie things at 22 but Torrington had just enough to come away with a 25-23 win and 2-2 tie in games.

Game five. Could this be the time the Raiders turned the tables on Woodland?

Woodland would go up by as many as three twice during the decisive game but each time they did, Torrington had an answer.

Giarnese had a critical kill, as did Carbone while Jayleen Colon had three service points. Colon played an outstanding match, racking up 33 assists on the night. Carbone had six kills and 12 digs.

Senior Samantha Zordan pitched in with 18 digs as both teams had players diving all over the floor in the final game.

For Woodland, Abbey Rosato was the tallest player on the court and down the stretch of the fifth game, it paid off with three key kills that gave the Hawks a 14-13 lead.

Junior Cameron Caswell would serve the Hawks into the finals after the games final point went off a Raider defender and out of bounds.

Epic, you bet. Unexpected, not at all.

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