NAUGATUCK — After a pretty easy victory in the first game of the Class L state volleyball tournament first round against Bristol Central Nov. 4, it looked like Naugatuck was set to cruise into the second round.
Not so fast, said the Rams.
No. 23 Bristol Central reeled off the next three games to take a 3-1 (13-25, 25-8, 25-13, 25-20) victory and ended No. 10 Naugatuck’s season.
The Greyhounds (17-6) roared out to a 5-0 lead in the first game on a service run by Stef Barry, and they never trailed en route to a 25-13 victory. The ‘Hounds finished the game on a 4-0 run thanks to a pair of aces by Erica Andreoli and a kill by Ashley Whitney.
After that, though, it was almost all Bristol Central.
“We came out on fire and it looked like Bristol Central had a little jetlag from the long bus ride,” Naugatuck first-year head coach Kevin Wesche said. “Then they started firing on all cylinders. We weren’t moving our feet and bringing up the ball like we did in the first game, and they took advantage of it.”
The Rams dominated the second game to the tune of a 25-8 win. They finished that game on a 20-4 run and kept that momentum into the third, when Bristol Central turned a 12-11 deficit into a 19-12 lead on a service run by Lara Colegrove. During that run, Lauren Vallee notched point after point with a strong attack at net. Vallee also clinched the game on a kill from the back row.
“They were able to capitalize on running their offense, getting the ball to the net and getting some kills,” Wesche said.
Naugatuck stuck with Bristol Central throughout the fourth game. Andreoli came up with a six-point service run in the middle of the game to give Naugy a 15-13 lead, but the Rams responded with a run of their own to go up 19-15.
Kait Barry followed up to serve three straight points and Ana Casteleo pounded two kills to tie the game at 19-all. The Rams went back ahead, and despite a kill by Whitney to make it a 21-20 Naugy deficit, Bristol Central took the last four points — including a match-ending ace by Colegrove — to advance to the second round.
Naugatuck’s season was its best in recent memory, and it came in Wesche’s first year after longtime coach Fred Scheithe retired. Wesche said he is looking forward to continuing to build his program.
“I look at it as a positive building year and starting some tradition,” Wesche said. “These kids came out hard and played hard, day in and day out. They practiced and everybody wanted to be here. They played with a passion, a purpose, excitement and enthusiasm. I’m very proud of the way they came out and I’m very pleased with the effort they gave, especially in my first year.”