SEYMOUR — Some expected a sweep in Tuesday night’s volleyball matchup between Woodland and Seymour. Probably no one expected the Hawks to be the ones wielding the brooms.
Woodland made it known that the defending champion isn’t going to let Seymour and Kennedy be the only squads in this year’s Naugatuck Valley League title hunt with a shocking, 3-0 win over the previously-unbeaten Wildcats in front of 250 raucous fans.
Leading two sets to none, the Hawks found themselves trailing, 9-1, at the start of the third set after Christina Cretella made five kills in the first 10 points. From that point on, though, Woodland turned on the offensive and defensive switches that had been clicked in the first two sets and roared back on a 24-13 run to complete the sweep.
“We couldn’t let them get any more pumped,” said Heather Framski, who notched eight kills, six digs, and five aces. “We knew we could come back and do it, and we did it.”
“When we get going, we go very well,” said Adriana Ambari, who recorded eight kills and three blocks and matched Cretella swing-for-swing and block-for-block. “I just really wanted to beat Seymour.”
“Adriana came of age,” Woodland coach Jim Amato said. “She started putting the ball down. We’ve had a couple of games where our rhythm was broken but tonight it was definitely on.”
Ambari was clutch when the Hawks needed it most, during their come-from-behind run in the third set. She came up big, tallying four kills and two blocks during Woodland’s impressive comeback to provide the extra punch the Black and Gold needed.
“It came down to timing and counting on my fellow players to cover for me, which they did,” Ambari said. “I couldn’t do it without my team.”
Woodland made the Cats earn almost every point they won throughout the game, committing few errors and being the first team to aggressively hit at Seymour this season, according to Wildcats coach Cathy Federowicz.
“They took us out of our game,” Federowicz said. “We are a hitting team and they were probably the first team we’ve played that hit at us. Whoever hits is going to be the team that’s going to win. They played great defense and executed very well.”
The Hawks weren’t pleased with their play last week, when they dropped their first set of the season to Wolcott before losing to Kennedy. But any signs of frustration were completely gone by game time Tuesday, as Woodland jumped out to a 7-1 lead in the opening set, which it won, 25-21 — the first set Seymour lost all season.
“We get so pumped,” Framski said. “There were all the fans and the surroundings and we got pumped. The loss to Kennedy made us want it so much more.”
Framski said she credits the team’s practice and preparation since last week for being able to counteract Seymour’s powerful hitters.
“We knew we had to prepare to block because they have big hitters,” she said. “Our defense knew that if we didn’t block it, we had to pick it up. Our practice was a lot of blocking and a lot of defense.”
Now, with Woodland, Seymour, and Kennedy all atop the league — having beaten one another to get there — Amato knows it’s going to be a second half of the season worth watching.
“It’s an interesting race now,” Amato said. “I guess we’re all the teams to beat.”