NAUGATUCK — There is a lot to see in the game of volleyball. Digs, thunderous kills at the net, all out dives in the back row and aces that find the open court. It’s rare, though, to see a set during a match that reaches the 30-point mark.
Naugatuck played two sets that extended into the 30-point realm in a four-match stretch. The first came Oct. 4 against Woodland, the second time came last Tuesday when Naugatuck hosted defending Naugatuck Valley League champion Kennedy. Both times Naugatuck won the set and the match.
“It shows we never give up and we always keep pushing, keep working hard and keep each other up,” senior co-captain Hailey Russell told the Republican-American after the Greyhounds’ 3-1 (25-12, 24-26, 32-30, 25-18) victory over Kennedy.
The Greyhounds and Eagles headed into the third set tied at 1-1.
Game three was one for the ages as both teams stared down game point four times. Russell (15 assists) provided opportunities in the middle by setting up the front row hitters. Lindsey Walsh had a kill to set up game point at 27-26 and Alyssa Roberts assisted Brielle Behuniak (16 kills, five blocks) on a kill for game point at 29-28, but Naugy couldn’t get the last point to go down.
The marathon continued at 30-30 when Russell set up Behuniak for a side out kill, and Naugy was at game point once again. Kaylee Jackson stepped in to serve and dropped in an ace for the 32-30 game win.
That pretty much set the tone for game four, as the Greyhounds went on to secure the match.
“This team has great athletic ability,” Naugatuck head coach Kevin Wesche said. “The key is to keep the ball alive no matter what the score is and you give yourself a chance. We showed that in winning games 32-30 twice.”
The Greyhounds followed up the win over Kennedy with sweeps of Oxford Oct. 17 and Wilby Oct. 18.
Jordyn Hunt had 16 service points with 18 digs and Behuniak added 10 kills and 15 assists against Oxford.
Behuniak had 10 kills and six aces versus Wilby. Felicia Salvati and Russell added four kills each.
Naugatuck officially improved to 15-0. Naugy did fall in its third match of the season to St. Paul, but the Falcons have since forfeited their first four matches.
The Greyhounds are off to their best start in Wesche’s tenure. Wesche prepared his team for the season by playing some tough opponents in the preseason, including St. Joseph, Hale-Ray, Southington and Shelton.
“We scrimmaged some very good teams and it showed us what our capabilities were,” he said.
“I had a lot of confidence in this team heading into the season,” Wesche added. “Over the course of the season they gained a little more confidence in themselves and began playing more relaxed. You saw that in the later stages of that game three (against Kennedy), there was no panic.”
Naugy is set to play Pomperaug on Monday, before a rematch with St. Paul on Tuesday. The Greyhounds will play Wolcott on Friday. Naugatuck will wrap up the regular season next week against Torrington on Oct. 28, before hosting Seymour on Oct. 30.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated from the article published in the Oct. 24 edition of the Citizen’s News to include information on a match played after press time.