Woodland spikers make it four in a row

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BEACON FALLS — That’s been the story of the Woodland spikers’ season thus far, their fourth win coming via a 3-0 sweep of Holy Cross Wednesday night in Beacon Falls. An all-around solid performance by the Hawks, from intimidating net play to impressive digging to strong passing, prevented the Crusaders from coming closer than eight points in any game—25-17, 25-11, 25-17.

Game one remained tight throughout the first 35 points. The rivals were tied at 13 before the Hawks made a short run to pull ahead, 20-13. The ‘Saders clawed back to within 20-17, but a kill by senior Steph Badale and three Holy Cross errors set up a kill by junior Jess Patrizi to end the longest rally of the game and give Woodland a 1-0 lead.

Patrizi remained hot in the second game, serving 12 straight points to take her team from a 2-1 lead to a dominant, 14-1 advantage, highlighted by several kills by seniors Erika Barnett and Kaiti Lembo. Badale served out the final four points of the game to earn a 2-0 edge.

“Our big girls—Badale, [Emily] Hutvagner, and especially Lembo—have been playing very well,” Woodland head coach Jim Amato said. “Lembo’s been killing it at net, and she had eight more tonight.”

The final game was similar to the first in that Cross kept up with the pace Woodland set. The two were tied at 17, but that was as close as the Crusaders came to extending the match. Senior Desiree Duby took over on serve and didn’t falter in the slightest, helped by a Hutvagner kill, an ace, and a kill by Badale, to bring up match point. Hutvagner sealed the win with a rocket fired into the back row, which deflected off the defense and out of bounds.

If Wednesday’s match is any indication of what’s to come, the Hawks are going to pose a heck of a challenge for any team in the Naugatuck Valley League. Few flaws were noticeable to the casual fan—the Black and Gold’s court communication, ball movement, service, ball striking, and temperament all were phenomenal—but to the judicious coach, there were plenty to fill the next practice.

“We still have work to do and need to keep improving,” Amato said. “But we’re playing together right now. They transition well from offense to defense and each one of them knows their roles. Our service game [which was key for us tonight] is vitally important to our success. We’ve been working on it and will continue to work on it.”

The Hawks return to Brass Division play Friday when they host to Watertown at 5:30 p.m.