SOUTHINGTON — Senior Zack Morgan set the tone for the Southington boys volleyball team in its home opener Monday night.
The co-captain dotted serves all over the court as the Blue Knights blitzed to an 8-0 lead. They never trailed in a 3-0 CCC crossover win over Maloney.
Game scores were 25-8, 25-18 and 25-17 as Southington improved to 3-0 on the season.
Morgan finished with a match-high 21 assists and six aces. He fed each of his weapons throughout the contest.
Adam Hunter (5 kills, 3 aces) had two kills in the opening set and co-captain Tim Walsh (5 kills) added a pair of kills of his own, including the clincher in Game 1.
Southington coach Lou Gianacopolos also praised his secondary hitters — senior Rocco Possidento and juniors Brandon Wolf and Alex Bush — for their efficient offensive performance. Possidento totaled three kills against one error. Wolf had a team-high six kills with just one error. Bush, making his first varsity appearance, had four kills and no miscues.
“If you look at numbers, there’s always the sideout guys that get the sideout point,” Gianacopolos said. “The guys that have been consistent for the past few matches, if you look at Rocco he’s been in the positive the last three matches. Every time you get him the ball, he will do something with it or not make an error.
“If you can’t take a ball and rip it for a point, put it in a spot where they can make a mistake or we can block it for a point or dig it and have another go at it. Rocco, Brandon Wolf and Alex Bush all had good games.”
Bush was filling in as a starting middle, where Southington was shorthanded without regulars Brett Hunter and Jacob Wroblewski.
“It was great to see him do what he did with the ball,” Gianacopolos said of Bush. “You always saw him touch the ball four times, but you saw and heard the crowd cheer because he was a first-time varsity player as a junior.”
Morgan opened the match with eight straight successful service points, including an ace.
“That’s something we’ve been needing: a fast start,” Morgan said. “We’ve lacked energy at times this year, so it was good to get us some points and get us off to a good start.
“But this was a team effort all around. We have some pieces this year. We are hoping to keep it going and have a good year.”
Maloney didn’t get a service point until Southington held a 23-4 advantage.
The Spartans were much more competitive in the next two sets. They got within one point in the second game and forced a 16-16 tie in the third.
Maloney came to life in the middle of the second set. Jaybril Pagan served six straight successful service points to close a 16-9 deficit to 16-15. Southington responded with 9-3 run to end the set.
Hunter provided the clincher. Wolf had three kills in the early going of the second set as the Blue Knights built a nice early cushion.
Game 3 was tight throughout. Maloney tied the set 16-16 but, as in Game 2, Southington pulled away.
“As a whole, we kind of eased up a little bit and that’s not something we should be doing,” Walsh said. “Our serving is a big part of our game and we missed serves. I missed a bunch myself. I have to work on being more consistent with my serves.”
Gianacopolos said he would like to see his players step up the tempo of their practices to be ready for the elite teams in the state down the road, like Newtown and Staples. The coach also pointed out a tough matchup with Farmington coming up.
“I think within our division we will do OK,” Gianacopolos said. “We will struggle with teams that are faster on offense. Right now, in practice, we aren’t running that fast an offense. When we see a team that has a great setter and a fast offense, we are going to be slow to react to it. Our expectations are to get faster to be prepared for those teams.”
Maloney dropped to 0-4 on the year, but coach Kevin Savejs liked the fight his team showed in the final two sets.
“Starting the year 0-4 is tough,” Savejs said. “We are just looking to go out there and having some fun and competing. I’m proud of the way they fought in the last two games because they started playing as a team.”
Sophomore libero Devin Juan (5 digs) played a strong game for the Spartans, particularly in the second and third games. Russell Lozowski had four kills and Adrian Suarez chipped in with five digs.
“We want to get into the playoffs; that’s definitely our goal,” Savejs said. “We just have to take the right steps to get there. Hopefully, this is a building block towards that. Southington has a lot of weapons and are consistently one of the top teams in Class L, and that should not be any different this year.”
Newington 3, Cheshire 1: The reigning Class M state champions defeated the Rams for the second time this season, this time in Cheshire. Game scores were 25-19, 20-25, 25-23 and 25-22.
Newington improved to 5-0. Cheshire fell to 2-2.
Colby Hayes and Aidan Godfrey had eight kills apiece for Cheshire. Hayes added five digs and two blocks. Luke Pinciaro dished 21 assists.