NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck girls volleyball team trailed Ledyard 8-6 in game five of the opener of the Class L tournament Monday night when a referee’s reversal of a decision paved the way to a change in momentum.
Naugatuck’s Emma Healy served a ball down the far sideline that the referee initially called out of bounds. The call was reversed and later ruled a do over. The No. 9 Greyhounds did just that and went on to take a 10-9 lead and control of the game.
When No. 24 Ledyard did get the serve back it was short lived as Olivia Rotatori (8 service points, 4 aces, 5 kills) charged the net for a side out kill. She then took over serve. Taylor Hyde (9 kills) recorded a kill for game point and then spiked the game-winner to complete the comeback from down 2-0 and send Naugy to the second round of the tournament with a 3-2 (25-27, 22-25, 25-9, 25-15, 15-9) win.
“I think we came out and looked over the net and saw a team with an 8-12 record ranked No. 24 and didn’t play with the kind of passion that we needed to play,” said Naugatuck head coach Kevin Wesche on how the Greyhounds fell behind 2-0 in the best-of-five match.
The Greyhounds will visit No. 8 Bristol Eastern (13-5) on Thursday in the second round.
Naugy (16-7) held a brief 5-2 advantage in game one only to have Ledyard’s front row of Miranda Chesnut (7 kills) and Whitney Brandt (11 kills) direct the flow of the game. Ledyard battled back from seven ties and eventually pulled out a 27-25 win.
The Greyhounds tried to get back on track in game two but quickly fell behind 12-5. Healy (12 service points) ripped off a five-point run to close the gap but Ledyard pulled out a 25-22 win to take a commanding 2-0 advantage.
With the season hanging in the balance the Greyhounds erupted behind the sturdy support of the Naugy student section and won games three and four rather easily to tie the match.
“We love our student section, the Hound Pound,” Wesche said. “They helped us to get through the tough spots and we refocused as a team. We started to play with the passion that we are used to playing with.”
Kelly Murphy (18 service points, 22 assists, 6 aces) got Naugy pointed in the right direction starting game three with an ace. The lead quickly grew to 7-2 and Molly Kennedy (11 kills, 8 service points, 5 aces) helped turned the tide.
Murphy closed out game three with an eight-point service run to stave off elimination. Ledyard lost its composure and sent four returns into the net during the game-closing run. The momentum was shifting to the Greyhounds.
In game four, Cailee Bergin (14 service points) served up a run to build a 10-6 Naugy advantage. Michelle Cordova secured the back row and the Greyhounds started to pull away opening a 17-11 lead. Kennedy served out the final points in the 25-15 win to even the match.
“In games three and four we started to play with the passion that we are used to,” Wesche said. “This is the state tournament and you can’t overlook any team. Hopefully we learned that lesson.”