CHESHIRE — The No. 1-seeded Cheshire volleyball team advanced in the CIAC Class LL tournament on Thursday night by unseating defending champion Stamford 3-1 in a second-round match
Stamford was the No. 16 seed, but played more like a reigning champion. The Black Knights took the opening game from the undefeated Rams 25-17.
Spurred on by a supportive home crowd and plenty of words from head coach Sue Bavone, the Rams got back on track and put away the next three 25-17, 26-24 and 25-23.
Now 22-0, the Rams advance to host No. 8 Glastonbury in the quarterfinals on Saturday at 6 p.m.
In the early going Thursday, memories of 2016 bubbled up. Stamford swept the Rams in last year’s quarterfinals en route to the crown.
Stamford graduated a lot of the players from that team. Even so, Bavone knew the Black Knights were going to be a tough out despite their 13-8 record this season.
“We knew that they were not going to come in here fearing us,” said Bavone. “They creamed is last year, but we’re a much different team from last year.”
Idle since winning the SCC championship last Saturday, the Rams were playing their first match in five days. It showed a bit in the opening game.
“I️ basically told them they can’t come out slow,” said Bavone. “I️ told them I️ felt like we were idling in the first game and then we finally put it into gear in the second game.”
That they did. The Rams won the second set by comfortable score of 25-17, but there was nothing comfortable about the back-and-forth third set. The Rams and Black Knights traded point after point. Things were knotted up at 24 before Cheshire nailed down the pivotal 26-24 victory.
Junior Elena Piran was a big reason why Cheshire took the third set and ultimately the game. Piran finished with 10 kills and 13 digs and, according to Bavone, did all of this on an ankle she rolled in practice Wednesday night.
“Elena is just solid all the way around,” said Bavone. “She plays great defense and has a great nose for the ball. We didn’t even know if we were going to have her today. She was a game-time decision.”
Mia Juodaitis and Julia Bartiet also had a solid games for Cheshire. Juodaitis finished with with two blocks and eight kills. Bartiet finished with three kills, five blocks and one ace.