NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck volleyball team ran into a perennial state contender when it took on Bunnell of Stratford Thursday in the second round of the Class L state tournament. The 13-5 Greyhounds, an Naugatuck Valley League semifinalist, went toe-to-toe with the 13-5 South West Conference runner-up, and the Bulldogs prevailed, 3-1.
Naugatuck battled back after losing games one and two, 25-22 and 25-23. Armed with eight seniors, the Greyhounds were not leaving their home court without one more win for 2009. Jessica Webber led the Greyhounds with 18 points, five blocks and four aces. Catie Garrett fired in 17 service points with five aces.
Lindsay Witkoski set up the offensive attack, lending 30 assists and 13 service points, with Alexis Granahan adding 13 service points and four kills. On defense, Julia Longo had 11 points and seven digs, with Skye Stella adding 11 points and eight digs. Melissa Miller had four blocks, and Andrea Granahan added four digs and five saves.
“It was a tough loss tonight,” Naugatuck head coach Fred Scheithe said. “I felt the girls played their best match of the season, but it just didn’t go our way. I asked them before the game to go out and play their hardest at their positions and have fun and the game would take care of itself. They did that, and I couldn’t be prouder of them for the effort they gave tonight.”
In game three, the Garnet and Grey showed why they racked up 13 wins this season, as they exploded at the net to overtake the Bulldogs.
The Greyhounds trailed early in game three, until Skye Stella and Alexis Granahan served up successful runs to give Naugatuck a 17-15 advantage. Jessica Webber strung together a run on serve, with Catie Garrett and Melissa Miller asserting themselves at the net. Julia Longo and Daniella Stoehrer played a strong middle row, and the Greyhounds were closing in, with a 22-19 advantage.
Lindsay Witkoski served up game point and the winner, with the help of Andrea Granahan making key dig saves down the stretch. The 25-19 Naugatuck victory cut the deficit to 2-1 heading into game four.
Naugatuck built a quick, 8-4 lead before Bunnell came storming back on the strength of its frontcourt game. A five-point Bulldogs run turned an 11-11 tie into a comfortable, 20-15 lead.
Bunnell closed it out with a 25-15 win to earn a hard-fought, 3-1 victory. The Dogs will take on the number one team in the state, Darien, on Friday.
“Last year, we were 8-8 and missed the NVL tournament,” Naugatuck head coach Fred Scheithe said. “To go 13-5 this season is a real accomplishment, and the seniors should be proud of what they achieved.”