October 27, 2014 10:38PM
By Reid Walmark
WALLINGFORD — Leadership is needed most in high school sports when momentum has been wrested away from a team.
That’s when Lyman Hall co-captain Kim Petit took control during a pivotal moment Monday night in an SCC girls volleyball quarterfinal against visiting Sheehan.
The Trojans, seeded fourth in the tournament, trailed by five points in the second game after winning the first, and if Lyman Hall couldn’t regain the spark, the match could have been tied at one win apiece heading into the third game. But Petit served seven straight points for the Trojans for a two-point cushion that was protected and sent No. 5 Sheehan into a two-game deficit.
The rivals had split their regular season match-ups, so a close tournament meeting would have surprised few people. But the outcome on this evening was not decided late in the match.
Lyman Hall capitalized on Petit’s push and took the third game for a 25-13, 25-23, 25-20 victory and a berth in the conference semifinals on Wednesday.
Lyman Hall will travel to defending SCC and CIAC Class LL state champion Cheshire at 6 p.m.
“When Kim Petit really stepped up serving seven or eight points in a row, that was a big change up in momentum,” Lyman Hall coach Karolina Wytrykowska said. “Then we knew we could win.”
Petit supplied more than just the serves when the Trojans moved from a 15-10 deficit into a 17-15 lead. For the match, she had 18 digs — helping to spark a strong Lyman Hall defensive performance — along with four kills, six aces and eight blocks.
Junior Sam Cook contributed 19 digs as well as seven kills, two blocks and two aces.
Wytrykowska and Sheehan coach Grace McCarthy agreed the match was shaped by the Trojans’ tight defense in addition to mistakes by the Titans. Wytrykowska said consistently accurate serving by Lyman Hall helped to set the tone for the match; McCarthy said Lyman Hall was stronger than her team in the mental aspects.
“We have great hitters and we play amazing defense when we’re on, but tonight we played timid,” said McCarthy, whose team beat Lyman Hall 3-2 on Sept. 27 in the Trojans’ gym. “We didn’t play our game. We didn’t play aggressively 100 percent of the time. We had those leads and I’m not sure what happened after we got them, to be honest.
“We had one error after another,” McCarthy said.
Lyman Hall, which beat Sheehan 3-0 on Oct. 18 in the Titans’ gym, scored the first three points in Game 1 on Monday before opening a 9-3 lead, forcing Sheehan to call time out. The Titans answered by getting the next two points, but they fell into a 16-5 deficit before losing the first game by 25-13.
“They came out fired up,” McCarthy said of Lyman Hall, “and they stayed mentally tough after that.”
In Game 2, Sheehan enjoyed its best stretch until Petit stepped up. The Titans grabbed a 9-1 lead before Lyman Hall got its game together. The Trojans scored five straight points before back-and-forth play left Sheehan with a 15-10 lead when Petit began serving.
The Titans opened a 5-1 lead in the third game, but the score was soon tied at 6-6. Lyman Hall held a 13-6 lead. The closest any further rallies by Sheehan would leave its deficit was four points, the latest at 21-17.
Wytrykowska said Lyman Hall has shown that it likes to chase opponents. The Trojans did well in comeback mode in the last two games.
“It’s more of our style,” Wytrykowska said. “But I thought it was our serving that got us going. We had only three service errors, and we had nine aces. That was a huge difference.”
Makayla Ricci, who was dominant at times in Game 3, had 10 kills and two blocks for Sheehan. Meghan Gavin had 17 assists and five aces.
“Makayla really showed up toward the end there,” McCarthy said.
Cheshire 3, Guilford 0: The defending conference champs swept their SCC quarterfinal match and extended their overall winning streak to 46 by a count of 25-12, 25-11 and 25-16.
The top-seeded Rams, now 19-0, will host Lyman Hall in Wednesday’s semifinals at 6 p.m. Cheshire twice beat the Trojans 3-0 during the regular season.
Against No. 9 Guilford (13-9), Cheshire got 31 assists and six aces from Sarah Rodgers and 15 digs and two aces from Maria Buzzelli.
Jillian Haberli was a force on both offense (10 kills) and defense (9 digs). Jill Howard collected nine kills and two blocks.