BEACON FALLS — A five-game loss to the defending Naugatuck Valley League volleyball champions gave Woodland and coach Jim Amato plenty to think about moving forward.
The Hawks fought back against Seymour but suffered a 3-2 defeat Sept. 25. The game scores were 25-12, 25-16, 23-25, 16-25 and 15-6.
“When you drop the first two sets against Seymour that really can set you back on your heels” Amato said. “For them to get up and really dominate over the next two sets, I saw the team really come into their own. They just couldn’t quite push the rock over the hill. They got Sisyphus-ed.”
After being routed in the first two games of that match, Amato decided to tweak his lineup to better use some of his defensive role players from the bench. That gave the Hawks the spark they needed and might pay dividends for the future.
“We have a lot of personnel who can do very specific things,” Amato said. “There were certain rotations playing against Seymour — their hitters were hitting in certain locations, so I felt like we could put some different bodies in those spots and get the ball up, and it worked.”
Steph Krebbs led the Hawks with 11 kills, seven digs and six blocks. Lexie Chabot added six kills and six digs. Fatima Khalid tacked on 18 assists and 17 digs, while Elayna Bentel and Alyssa Lukeski tallied three kills apiece.
Amato thinks the tough loss to Seymour served as both a confidence-booster and a learning experience for Woodland.
“(It) was a great litmus test for us,” Amato said. “We made some wholesale changes in the middle of the match, and a few more puzzle pieces fit in. We just didn’t have the stamina down the stretch for that fifth game, and we let one get away.”
Woodland bounced back in its next two matches, a 3-1 win over St. Paul last Thursday and a 3-1 win over Naugatuck last Friday to improve to 6-3 on the season.
Lukeski turned in the best performance of her career versus St. Paul with 17 kills and five aces, while Chabot checked in with 12 kills, Krebbs tallied nine spikes, Khalid dished out 33 assists, and Rachel Poulos served four aces.
“Alyssa Lukeski was en fuego,” Amato said. “There were 41 assists on the team for 43 kills, so they were really running some good offense. That was frighteningly good. Of course, we made 76 errors. We were so dominant and then so completely bad.”
Lukeski stayed hot with 14 kills, 11 digs and three aces against Naugatuck. Krebbs had eight kills, and Poulos had three aces and 12 digs.
The Hawks will host Torrington on Tuesday, visit Wilby on Friday afternoon, followed by games next week at Wolcott (Tuesday), Waterbury Career (Thursday) and Holy Cross (Friday).
Editor’s note: This story has been updated from the version that is published in the Oct. 4 edition of the Citizen’s News to include information on games played after press time.