Hawks best Hounds in five-game thriller

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NAUGATUCK — Woodland needed an answer to Naugatuck’s stingy defense. And Stephanie Badale stepped up. Badale smashed five kills in the final game to complete a come-from-behind win for Woodland in a five-game thriller in the borough Monday night.

The Hawks (3-0) defeated the Greyhounds, 3-2 (21-25, 28-26, 22-25, 25-13, 15-12), in a two-hour, 20-minute match symbolized by the deciding game. Woodland lost the first and third games, and fell behind in the fifth game before mounting a comeback.

“That fifth game was a microcosm of the match,” Woodland head coach Jim Amato said.

Alexis Granahan (28 service points) struck a low, line-drive ace to give Naugatuck a 7-4 edge in the fifth game before Woodland took over. Following a Naugatuck error, Kaitlin Lembo (18 service points and 10 kills) hit four straight service points to give Woodland a 9-7 lead.

Naugy’s Jessica Webber countered with a kill and served up an ace to tie the match. The match went back and forth and was still tied at 12.

A Badale kill gave the Hawks the lead for good. Following a Greyhound attack error, Badale finished the game with consecutive kills.

If there was any doubt the Hawks would complete the comeback, it wasn’t shared by Badale.

“I definitely knew our team could do it,” said Badale, who finished the match with 10 kills.

Woodland did a good job of keeping Naugatuck away from its strength, according to NHS head coach Fred Scheithe,.

“We got lulled into playing their game,” Scheithe said. “Which is those little push shots. I tell our girls I want to see them hit, and they got away from that.”

Amato acknowledged Naugatuck’s hitting prowess.

“They took it to us early,” Amato said. “They hit hard, and they hit consistently.”

Much of Naugatuck’s success was predicated on its defense. Many Woodland attacks were turned away and converted into points.

Granahan and Webber, especially, stood out on defense, according to Amato.

“That was as stout of a defense as we’ll see all year,” Amato said.

Naugatuck took game one after Melissa Miller’s block and consecutive service points gave Naugy the win.

Woodland survived game two, which needed extra points to be decided. Emily Hutvagner tied the game at 26 with a kill then ended it two points later with another smash at the net.

Impressive back-row defense by Skye Stella helped Naugy take game three. On game point, Stella stuck out her right hand to keep an attack in play, a move that led eventually to the game-deciding point.

Jess Patrizi (28 service points) served up seven straight points to give Woodland a 21-11 lead in game four. Woodland won the game 25-13.

Amato said the match was a test of Woodland’s game plan: One point at a time.

“Even when we were down, it’s still one point at a time for us,” Amato said.