NAUGATUCK — The Greyhounds started strong. And they finished stronger.
Naugatuck defeated Holy Cross in a five-set, heart-pounding match on opening night for both teams. The ‘Hounds won, 3-2 (25-18, 9-25, 25-22, 11-25, 15-12) in match that lasted a little over two hours.
Naugy (1-0) bounced back from a fourth set that the Crusaders (0-1) dominated from start to finish.
In the deciding fifth game, the ‘Hounds scored six of the first seven points to force the Crusaders to call a timeout. After Alyssa Petta’s kill to tie the set at one, Naugy scored five straight.
Senior Cataysia Brown started the Greyhounds’ rally. Following a kill from Naugy’s Ashley Whitney, Brown blocked an attack from Petta to give Naugy a 4-1 lead. After a Holy Cross error, Barry’s kill gave Naugy a 6-1 advantage.
Naugy extended its lead to 10-3 after an ace from Stefani Barry.
The Crusaders refused to quit. Later in the set, Julia Albini ignited a comeback with a kill, and Holy Cross scored five of the next six points to cut the Naugatuck lead to 11-8.
With the score 13-9, Holy Cross scored the next three points, thanks to a kill from Adriana Morrone, an attack error, and ace from Morrone.
Then, Brown struck again. Her kill pushed Naugy’s lead up to 14-12 to halt the Holy Cross rally before the ‘Hounds captured the victory.
The Greyhounds feature a young and inexperienced roster, but it seemed they gained experience throughout the night and it applied it as the match progressed. By the fifth set, the ‘Hounds were asserted, confident and made the plays needed to win the match.
“They learned from the sets they won and what the needed to do,” Naugy head coach Fred Scheithe said. “Everybody contributed tonight.”
The three set wins for the Greyhounds had a similar theme—good serves and communication. That play was contagious at times.
“When we were winning, we were trusting each other,” Scheithe said.
On defense, the Greyhounds benefited from sophomores Whitney and Kait Barry as well as junior Sarah Chandler, whom the coach noted in particular.
“Sarah kept the ball alive so many times,” Scheithe said. “She was aggressive, and that aggressiveness carried over to her teammates.”
The Naugy coach noted the team’s preseason play last weekend in Westport. The ‘Hounds went 4-2 against bigger teams.
“Last weekend taught that size doesn’t matter and that we can play with anyone,” Scheithe said.
The Greyhounds hit the road for the first time on Friday at Kennedy at 5 p.m. before returning home on Tuesday against Wilby at 6 p.m.