Hounds spikers advance to NVL semifinal


WATERBURY — It was a trick-or-treat match for the Naugatuck volleyball team on Halloween. It ended with treats and a trip to the Naugatuck Valley League tournament semifinals.

The Greyhounds (14-5) withstood the scare of an aggressive Torrington (10-9) attack in a comeback victory over the Red Raiders, 3-2 (25-21, 22-25, 18-25, 25-17, 15-9), in a quarterfinal match of the NVL tournament Saturday afternoon at Kennedy High School.

After the match, Naugy players enjoyed some decorated cupcakes for a postgame snack.

With the win, the fourth-seeded Greyhounds will face top-seed Kennedy on Tuesday night.

After falling behind, 2-1, in the match, Naugatuck played its most consistent game and forced Torrington out of its rhythm.

“We started feeding off their mistakes and getting our hits and serves in,” Naugatuck senior Alexis Granahan said.

The Greyhounds struggled through the third game, with six service errors, as Torrington took control of the match. Naugatuck grabbed back the momentum in the fourth game.

Clinging to a 10-9 lead, Naugatuck’s Lindsay Witkoski deposited a nifty, over-the-shoulder kill that landed in the center of the Red Raider court. The Greyhounds won eight of the next 10 points to take a 19-11 lead and won the game, 25-17.

The Red Raiders’ early success in the match seemed to be their downfall, according to their coach.

“We seemed to get nervous about winning.” Torrington head coach Janet Giampaolo said. “We had more errors [in the fourth game] than we did in the rest of the match.”

The Greyhounds won the toss to get the first serve in the final game, and Julia Longo started it off with one of her four aces in the match. Longo finished with 22 service points.

With the game tied at 3, Granahan smashed a kill into the court, then served three straight points. The Greyhounds never gave back the lead.

Jessica Webber finished off the match with her fifth kill on the day.

“Once we started to get our serves in, it was a different match,” Naugatuck head coach Fred Scheithe said. “At the same time, our passing got better. Better exchanges lead to Lindsay [Witkoski] making better sets.”

Witkoski finished the match with 31 assists. Webber and Granahan added 18 and 14 points, respectively.

Jenna Wagenblatt had 10 kills, and Jess Eanniello had 16 assists to pace Torrington.

The victory was the first NVL tournament win for the Naugatuck seniors. Kennedy, which defeated Ansonia later in the day, is up next for Naugy.

“This is our first time making it to this point since I’ve been here,” Granahan said. “We’re pretty excited.”

Naugatuck lost to Kennedy twice during the regular season, including a 3-2 loss in Waterbury last week.