SOUTHINGTON — The Southington girls volleyball team took care of a Trumbull team that did not want to go down quietly in Saturday’s Class LL quarterfinal matchup at Southington High.
“I joked with Julia (Wells) after she missed that serve. I said, ‘Julia, I know I am losing my hair,but you guys don't need to turn it gray at the same time,” joked Southington coach Rich Heitz following the match.
Well, Coach, you’ll at least keep your color. The No. 2 Blue Knights held off No. 10 Trumbull 3-1 to improve to 20-3 and advance to Wednesday’s semifinals. Southington won the fourth game 25-17 after winning the first two by scores of 25-21 and 25-18 and dropping the third 25-23.
“In the second set, we we're serving a lot more aggressively,” said Heitz on changes he made over the course of the match. “We had to take them out of system.”
The third set was a battle between the two teams all the way down to the wire, with each trading points before a miscommunication on the Southington side of the court yielded the final point of the set.
“We knew they were middle strong,” said Heitz. “We have a height issue, so we had to take them out of their system and I think we did a good job.”
One Blue Knight who has stood out in both CIAC tournament matches so far has been Erica Bruno. The senior followed up the 13 kills she had in the second round against Staples with a team-high 16 against Trumbull.
“I just prepared and knew they were all going to be really good teams and that we were going to have a tough road ahead,” said Bruno. “I just want to get mentally ready for every game.”
Setting up Bruno was Steph Zera. The senior setter dished 43 assists against Trumbull.
“Her sets are … awesome,” said Bruno. “They are perfect to hit. I love her sets so much.”
Each set in Saturday’s quarterfinal matchup was fairly even. Points were traded. Long rallies determined key points in each set.
Brooke Cooney was also in double-digit kills for Southington with 12. Haley Larrabee (7 kills, 6 digs) and Sarah Myrick (6 kills, 5 digs) were solid on both ends of the floor.
Hannah Zelina didn’t put up big numbers in the middle, but drew attention from Trumbull’s defense that freed up space for other hitters.
“Hannah (Zelina) is more natural at the middle and Erica is an outside we had to convert into a middle,” said Heitz. “Hannah had a big body up on her and it's tough, and they weren't blocking Erica not nearly as well as they were blocking Hannah.”
The Blue Knights advance to meet their third FCIAC opponent of the state tournament. No. 6 Greenwich (19-4) awaits in Wednesday’s semifinals at a site and time to be announced.