STRATFORD – The Class LL girls volleyball semifinal couldn’t have started any better for No. 2 Southington.
The Blue Knights were nearly flawless in Wednesday night’s opening game against No. 6 Greenwich. Everything went the way of the Cardinals after that as Greenwich collected a 3-1 victory at Bunnell High School.
Game scores were 14-25, 25-19, 25-21 and 25-14.
Greenwich (23-4) was paced by the dynamic senior trio of Maggy Egan (15 kills, 2 aces), Tara Ford (11 kills, 3 blocks) and Erika Hauschild (10 kills, 4 aces).
Setter Nicole Wood was also excellent all night with a match-high 40 assists. The Cardinals have won 19 in a row and will play No. 5 Amity in the final on Saturday. Greenwich is seeking its first state title since 2010.
Game 1 was a dream set for the Blue Knights. It almost seemed too easy. Sarah Myrick with three kills as Southington’s lead ballooned to 15-5.
The Blue Knights used a 13-1 run to go up 20-5 while much of the crowd was still filling in.
Hannah Zelina (7 kills) delivered two early kills. Brooke Cooney, Erica Bruno (9 kills) and Sarah Myrick (11 kills) were also key cogs for the Blue Knights in the early going. Myrick finished the first game with three kills.
Southington setter Steph Zera was sharp early and finished the match with 38 assists. She went over the 2,000-assist milestone earlier in the postseason.
“We fought as hard as we could,” Zera said. “We were just really excited and we came out really strong.”
Southington eventually got the lead up to 24-8 before the Cardinals ripped off a 6-0 run, but the game ended on a missed serve.
Despite the loss in Game 1, the late rally seemed to give Greenwich life and it carried over into the second game.
“The first set we played really well,” Southington coach Rich Heitz said. “We were up 24-7 and we gave them momentum and we never grabbed it back. It was two different teams. We had intensity in the first set and we didn’t follow through.”
In Game 2, the foes were tied 7-7 before Greenwich ripped off four straight points that included three consecutive kills by Egan. That run expanded to a 6-1 uprising as the Cardinals went up 13-8.
Southington went to work after that and erased the deficit and tied the match, 16-16.
But the Cardinals finished on a 9-3 run. Egan was the difference in that span with four kills. Ford also added a kill and a block as Greenwich tied the match at one game apiece.
Greenwich, which also knocked out the Blue Knights in the 2015 Class LL semifinals, put Southington in a hole again in Game 3. The Cardinals went up 10-4 and Southington was never able to overcome despite clawing back within 15-13. Like Game 2, a late surge pushed the Cardinals. With a 5-1 run, they went up 19-13. Southington did stave off three set points, but the deficit was too much.
Game 4 was more of the same as Greenwich rolled to a 8-3 lead. Hauschild served that string of points. Greenwich went up 14-5 and there was no coming back for the Blue Knights.
Haley Larrabee had eight kills as well as three aces for Southington. Nolyn Allen added 18 digs and Jenna Martin chipped in with 12.
Southington’s season comes to an end at 21-4. Southington will graduate eight seniors: Allen, Bruno, Cassidy Herrick, Myrick, Zelina, Julia Wells, Zera and Emily Tinyszin.
“It was an amazing year and the team played really well,” Zera said. “We came so far and I’m proud of the team.”