Historic Hawks wrap up perfect regular season
The Hawks defeated St. Paul, 3-0 (25-9, 25-13, 26-24), and finished the regular season 18-0 to mark the program’s first undefeated run. Up next, Woodland competes in the Naugatuck Valley League tournament that begins on Saturday.
Woodland honored its four seniors—Adriana Ambari, Sam Edwon, Sehar Khalid, and Emily Wirsing—before the match and ended it with a common theme. The Hawks found a way to win.
“We’re not undefeatable,” Woodland head coach Jim Amato said. “But we’ve worked hard to be undefeated. … It feels really exciting.”
Hard work was evident in the Hawks’ serving. Woodland set the tone in the first set.
Serves came fast, slow, low, high, on the line and in the middle of the court. Woodland kept St. Paul off-balanced, guessing and handcuffed.
Down, 6-4, in the opener, Woodland scored 15 straight points. Ambari put on a serving showcase and accumulated numerous aces. She finished with 13 aces and almost single-handedly led Woodland to a 25-9 first-set victory.
“We always seem to find a way,” Ambari said.
In the second set, the Hawks used another way—hitting—to beat St. Paul. With a 14-11 edge, Woodland went on another spurt with three straight points.
It started with Wirsing (17 assists) setting up Brianna Pacileo, who deposited one of her match-high nine kills on the night. Pacileo followed that with an ace that tipped the net and fell straight to the ground.
Ambari came back with a kill to give Woodland a 17-11 lead. She finished with six kills.
After a service error, Tayler Boncal delivered a kill for the Hawks. On the next point, Ambari served the first of three straight aces to put away the set.
“It was a big night, senior night,” Amato said. “Once we settled into a rhythm we were okay.”
The third set featured another trait of the Hawks—comeback ability.
Emily Tkac of St. Paul tied the set at 22, and after two Woodland errors, the Falcons earned a set point. The Hawks bounced back.
A service error and an attack error knotted the set at 24. Sam Edwon gave the Hawks the lead with a kill and the match ended after a St. Paul attack error.
Amato said he has kept the team focused on progressive goals.
“We set goals: Qualify for the states, win the Brass, and go undefeated,” Amato said. “Now, we’re on to the next step.”
Perhaps the best trait for the Hawks is their recognition that they can always improve. Perfection is only as good as the latest match.
“There’s always something to improve on,” Ambari said.