Woodland overwhelms Kaynor in state opener

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Woodland’s McKenna Cronin hits the ball versus Kaynor Tech in the first round of the Class M volleyball tournament Monday in Beacon Falls. Woodland won the match, 3-0. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI
Woodland’s McKenna Cronin hits the ball versus Kaynor Tech in the first round of the Class M volleyball tournament Monday in Beacon Falls. Woodland won the match, 3-0. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

BEACON FALLS — The Hawks opened up the Class M volleyball tournament Monday night with a powerful performance.

No. 9 Woodland dispatched of No. 24 Kaynor Tech in quick fashion, 3-0 (25-5, 25-11, 25-8), before its home crowd. Maddie Hupprich led the way for the Hawks (18-5) with 24 assists and 12 aces to go along with six kills.

The Hawks will travel to No. 8 Tolland (17-4), a 3-0 winner over No. 25 Waterford in the first round, on Wednesday for a second-round match.

Being able to “run and gun” while maintaining team chemistry is what Woodland head coach Jim Amato wanted to see out of his Hawks on Monday. And that’s what he got.

The Hawks were in complete control of the match from start to finish. When Kaynor (8-12) was able to win the serve, the Hawks made sure it wasn’t for long and capitalized with their serves to the tune of 24 aces. Lindsey Gabianelli had five aces, while McKenna Cronin, Emily Brouillette and Katie Minutillo each added two.

“No matter what the competition is on that side, we have to keep our chemistry together and move forward,” Amato said.

Moving forward in the tournament could mean facing some familiar teams. The Hawks are one of three NVL teams seeded ninth or higher in Class M. NVL champion Torrington is the top seed and NVL runner-up Seymour is the third seed. Both earned byes in the first round.

Woodland’s Katie Minutillo hits the ball versus Kaynor Tech in the first round of the Class M volleyball tournament Monday in Beacon Falls. Woodland won the match, 3-0. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI
Woodland’s Katie Minutillo hits the ball versus Kaynor Tech in the first round of the Class M volleyball tournament Monday in Beacon Falls. Woodland won the match, 3-0. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

“We’ve been saying it for a long time, the NVL is a great warehouse of powerful volleyball teams, and we’re seeing it this year, especially in Class M,” Amato said.

A win over Tolland, which Woodland has knocked out of the tournament three times in the last four years, could set up a quarterfinal match at Torrington on Friday night.

In order for the Hawks to make another tournament run — they have reached four straight state semifinals including a championship in 2013 — Amato said it will come down to playing transition defense and running the offense.

And, of course, one other important aspect of the game.

“Well, scoring more points than the other team doesn’t hurt,” Amato said.