WATERBURY — Outside hitter Maille Ianniruberto is listed at 5-foot-11 inches, but the Woodland High senior noted that she’s actually 6-feet tall, thanks to her shoewear.
Regardless of her height, Ianniruberto’s jumping ability, arm extension and power helped lead the No. 2 Hawks to a 3-0 sweep (25-15, 25-19, 25-20) of defending champion and No. 1 Seymour on Thursday, Nov. 3, in the NVL volleyball final at the Jack Taglia Gymnasium.
“Every time Maille touched the ball, you knew that she would give it her all,” said teammate and setter Emma Fabrizi, who recorded 18 assists and eight digs. “She is always good, but she was even better tonight.”
Ianniruberto earned Most Valuable Player honors, thanks to 12 kills, four blocks and two digs.
“I was definitely motivated,” said Ianniruberto, noting last year’s five-set loss to the Wildcats. “In the offseason, and throughout the year, I worked on all of my skills and better conditioned myself. It was non-stop. I didn’t take any breaks. Volleyball is all about mentality. You need to stay calm and shake things off if you have a bad mistake.”
When Seymour rallied in the second set for a 19-19 tie, Woodland coach Jim Amato called a timeout to settle the Hawks down. Libero Samantha Sosnovich proceeded to serve six straight points to close out the set.
“That was intense,” said Ianniruberto. “We got determined. During practice (Wednesday), our coaches and teammates made it clear that we needed to have better communication and better passing than we did Tuesday against Holy Cross in the semifinals. I think we did that. We just had to stay calm against Seymour, which is a really good team. They have such an amazing coach (Cathy Federowicz).”
Federowicz said “Maille is very hard to defend. Woodland (21-2) was definitely faster and they played their ‘A’ game and that’s what you need to do in a championship match.”
Kalle Legassey had 11 digs and seven kills and Ava Bianchini added 10 digs, four aces and three kills for Woodland, which also captured titles in 2007, 2009, 2013 and 2015.
Ava Cratty chipped in four kills and two digs.
“I’m so proud of our team,” said Legassey. “We all stay composed and played in the present. We practiced hard and treated it like a championship game with our mentality.”
NAUGATUCK — The much-anticipated Naugatuck Valley League girls volleyball championship match is now upon us.
Top-seeded Seymour High will meet No. 2 Woodland Thursday night, tentatively set for 7, at Kennedy High in Waterbury, as the two teams will vie for a winner-take-all matchup after splitting the season series.
Both the Wildcats (19-1) and Hawks (20-2) advanced to the final after sweeping three sets in Tuesday night’s semifinals at Naugatuck High.
Woodland cruised to a 3-0 win over Holy Cross (25-14, 25-13, 25-17) while Seymour didn’t have such an easy time against resilient St. Paul of Bristol.
Woodland senior Kalle Legassey had 14 digs and nine kills while senior setter Emma Fabrizi recorded 16 assists, two kills and three digs against the Crusaders.
“It was exciting tonight, and I thought we played well,” said Woodland senior Samantha Sosnovich. “There are things we can work on in practice (today) that will better prepare us for the final.”
Legassey agreed, saying the team will need to work on better execution and running their plays more effectively in practice.
Woodland coach Jim Amato was impressed by the Crusaders’ surge in the third set.
The Crusaders were down 13-5 before going on an 11-3 run, tying the match up at 16-16.
“Holy Cross never gave up,” said Amato.
Holy Cross’ Shaye Harris had 10 digs and two kills, and Eliana Capobianco added eight digs and four kills.
“We needed to minimize our mistakes, but it was something that we didn’t do, and Woodland played well the whole time,” said Holy Cross coach Sarah Ciarleglio.