Lady Trojan spikers sweep Nonnewaug, advance to quarters
Published 10:52 pm, Thursday, November 11, 2010
The 12th-seeded Weston girls volleyball team defeated fifth-seeded Nonnewaug 3-0 (25-20, 25-20, 25-18) on the road on Tuesday in the second round of the Class M tournament. Weston raised its record to 15-6 and will host 13th-seeded Tolland (13-5) today at 6 p.m. in the Class M quarterfinals. Nonnewaug ended its season at 16-5.
"Tonight, we had to make some adjustments because Nonnewaug played good defense and gave us trouble at the net," Lady Trojans Coach Jamie Charles said. "We tried not to let them know what we're doing and we tried to put it in tricky spots. Every game, you have to get better and better. What we're doing is finding ways we can score. You can't make many mistakes in the state tournament."
The Lady Chiefs had a height advantage with two girls over 6-feet tall and two girls that are at least 5-10. Nonnewaug parlayed this advantage and took an early 5-1 lead in the first game with 6-1 junior Danielle Durette and 6-1 sophomore Madison Losure (six kills, three blocks, one service point) each opening the game with back-to-back poke kills.
Weston crept back in with senior co-captain Christina Welsh (18 kills, 15 digs, eight service points, one ace, two blocks) delivering kills from the outside spots.
"Coach Charles got me to pick the open spots in the defense," Welsh said.
"Tonight was different because the lights were blinding in Nonnewaug's gym and I didn't think it would be easy, so I approached it of getting back to basics and remembered the basics of volleyball," Gersh said. "We also had to remember to play our game and not the other team's game."
Welsh also picked up some digs and robbed Lady Chiefs senior tri-captain Mary Harrison (five kills, seven digs, seven service points) of a service ace. The captain also robbed Nonnewaug of a kill as well to keep the Lady Trojans within range.
"It always a matter of being ready and to be alert," Welsh said.
Weston took its first lead at 10-9 after senior Sammy Fino (13 digs, five service points) served two straight points. Ashmore's slam secured a point and a Lady Chief error yielded another one.
Gersh gave the Lady Trojans momentum and a 16-10 lead with five service points, one ace.
"I had a problem serving in my last two games because I'm a jump server and my toss has been off," Gersh said. "Coach Charles had me remember what I did right in practice and it helped me get back to the basics."
Ashmore (eight kills, 11 digs, 13 service points, six aces) had three kills during the rally, one off a basketball pass and the other two where she zinged it.
"I think in the first game was to get on top of the ball and hit to the open spots," Ashmore said.
Nonnewaug stormed back and took a 20-17 lead after Harrison served seven straight points, three aces. Losure helped with a kill.
An Ashmore kill from Gersh forced a sideout. Ashmore then turned the tide of the entire match by closing out the game with seven service points, four of the last five points, including the last three for aces.
"I tried to find the open spots and I tried to serve there," Ashmore said. "I focused on my toss and getting on top of the ball to give it a top spin."
The 5-9 sophomore outside hitter maintained her poise despite facing a lot of pressure, which she was unfazed by.
"I tried not to look at the scoreboard and I took it one point at a time," Ashmore said. "At the end of the first game, we were confident with our serve and play but we weren't overconfident or satisfied because we wanted to play better."
Welsh had two kills from Gersh during the service rally and sophomores Frances Holmes and Savannah Carpenter produced the other point when the middle hitter Holmes (four blocks, one assist, one kill) set up Carpenter (10 digs, two assists, two kills, one block) for a kill.
"Both rose to the occasion in becoming good players and they have been helpful in the last two games," Ashmore said.
Lady Chief senior tri-captain Brianna Schaar opened the second game by poking it for a kill but that was Nonnewaug's only lead of the game. The Lady Trojans never looked back after Welsh's kill made it 2-1 and were permanently in front when Welsh's kill made it 3-2. Ashmore added two more service aces to make it 5-2 and Weston's lead fluctuated between two and seven points after that with its lead peaking at seven, 24-17, on Clement's kill.
Clement (12 kills, 11 digs, two service points) hurt Nonnewaug from the weakside and pounded home many kills. She also tipped home many kills and closed out the game with a basketball pass kill.
"I saw holes from the outside and I went for the back holes," Clement said. "There was a big gap in the court that they didn't cover. I ran to the weakside and tipped it over their blocks."
Charles said, "Lili did a great job of tipping and rolling the ball and played smart defense."
In addition to her hits, Clement sparkled on defense and prevented many balls from hitting the floor.
"I tried to stay on my toes and I anticipated, which was helpful," Clement said. "I was also mentally focused on what was happening."
Fino also made big plays in the back row.
"I really focused on moving my feet, diving out afterwards and anticipating the ball," Fino said.
The Lady Trojans had a more difficult start in the third game and a Losure block gave the Lady Chiefs a 4-2 lead. Nonnewaug took a 6-5 lead when 5-11 junior Meryl Ramsey (three kills, nine digs) and 5-10 junior Katie Wade (three kills, one block) combined for a block. Ramsey's running kill gave the Lady Chiefs a 13-11 lead and a Weston hitting error made it 14-11.
Lady Trojan senior co-captain Maggie Montelli (four service points, one assist, one ace) tied it 14-14 with two service points, one ace. Welsh tied it 15-15 with a kill to force a sideout and then gave Weston the lead for good, 20-15, with five straight service points, one ace.
"I tried to hit the open spots in their defense," Welsh said.
Carpenter forced a Nonnewaug error to clinch the match.
"I think they have some good players, especially their middle hitter, and they did well with serve-receive, but in the end, it came down to us making less mistakes than they did," Welsh said. "One problem we had is we knew going in we could beat Stratford [3-1 in first round on Monday] and Nonnewaug and it made us relax. Hopefully, when we face a better opponent, we won't be overconfident and it will push us to play to the best of our ability like we did against [eventual SWC champion] Newtown [in the SWC semifinals]."
Fino said, "I think we have the potential to do it [win Class M] and it's a matter of wanting it as much as we say we do. The team gained a lot of confidence with each other and with ourselves and we want to prove we deserve to be in SWCs and States."