They play these Naugatuck Valley League tournaments for a reason, and no matter if a team is ranked first or eighth, every squad enters on the same playing field with an equal chance to win.
No. 8 seed Torrington proved that theory last Friday in the quarterfinals of the NVL volleyball tournament as they upset No. 1 Woodland 3-0 (25-23, 25-22, 25-16) at Kennedy High.
Meanwhile at Seymour High, No. 2 Seymour made quick work of No. 7 Naugatuck in a 3-0 (25-12, 25-11, 25-13) sweep.
Torrington grabbed a 23-15 lead in game one and had to withstand a furious Woodland comeback as the Hawks rattled off seven straight service points. The Raiders held on for a slim, 25-23 win.
In game two, Woodland held a 13-6 advantage but couldn’t hold off Torrington as the Raiders rallied for a 25-22 win to take a 2-0 lead over the Brass Division champion.
The Hawks never took flight in game three, dropping a 25-16 decision in being swept out of the NVL tournament.
“Our execution was off,” Woodland head coach Jim Amato said. “Torrington was making their passes and was consistent in serve. We knew they would be tough as we went to five games during the regular season with them. We began playing not to lose and that is never a good way to play. Hopefully this lights a fire under us heading into the state tournament.”
Woodland will be the No. 1 seed in Class M and likely will not play until the second round on Saturday after earning a first-round bye.
Naugatuck came out and took the lead in game one against the Wildcats, building a 6-3 advantage. Kate Barry and Melissa Ascencao served up the lead for Naugatuck with Courtney Quarles and Cataysia Brown playing strong on the net.
But Cindy Farrell ignited a Seymour comeback with a six-point service run that included three aces. The Wildcats took a 13-8 advantage before Naugatuck tried to get back in it.
Sarah Chandler took over serve and Jess Buckley lent the assists as the Greyhounds trailed, 14-10. Lauren Andreoli and Victoria Hendricks tried to hold off Seymour with heads-up plays in the back row.
But Seymour was not to be denied as they pulled away with a 25-12 victory on the strength of the front-row play by Stephanie Gianotti and Angela Tacinelli.
In game two, Naugatuck again started out on top with Andreoli serving up a 7-4 lead. Hendricks made a head-first dive to try and keep the ball alive as the Greyhounds were leaving it all out on the court.
Seymour went on a run and never looked back as they took a 2-0 lead following the 25-11 win.
In game three, Ashley Whitney in the front row and Kaitlyn Hayes in the middle tried to give Naugatuck a spark but Seymour took a commanding lead, winning easily by a 25-13 margin.
“I’m really pleased that we made the states and the NVL with what we started with at the beginning of the season,” Naugatuck head coach Fred Scheithe said. “Seymour is obviously a very good team and I think playing that kind of competition will help us as we get ready for the states.”
Naugatuck will be approximately the No. 19 seed in Class L and will be on the road for its first-round match on Thursday.