VOLLEYBALL: Sweet ’16 continues for Sheehan at Maloney’s expense

VOLLEYBALL: Sweet ’16 continues for Sheehan at Maloney’s expense

WALLINGFORD — Sheehan’s stellar 2016 season continued Wednesday night with a 3-1 out-of-conference win over Maloney.

The Titans improved to 11-4 by game scores of 16-25, 25-18, 25-20 and 25-17.

The first game was all Maloney behind the play of Melanie Polanco (14 kills, 2 aces), Hailey Matias (13 kills, 11 digs), Madison Papallo (23 assists, 3 kills) and Isabel Frazza (16 digs).

The hard-hitting Polanco used a powerful jump serve to win the final four points of Game 1 for the Spartans (7-7).

The one-game deficit forced Sheehan coach Grace McCarthy to make some adjustments in Game 2 and her team responded.

“I was nervous after that first set. They out-served us; they killed us. We made a lot of errors and we started out playing a lot of defense and not pushing it,” McCarthy said. “We adjusted a couple of things and our girls started putting more pressure on them.”

Sheehan bolted to a 7-1 lead only to see Maloney answer with a 6-0 streak forcing McCarthy to call a timeout. Ultimately, the Spartans went on a 12-3 run to go up 13-10. Sheehan responded 15-5 to tie the match 1-1.

“Today was one of those days where everything came together,” McCarthy said. “Sometimes we have a better offensive day or a better defensive day, but today everything came together and it’s very nice to see getting closer to the playoffs.”

In Game 3, Sheehan jumped to a 18-12 advantage. Maloney countered with a 7-1 run to lead 19-18. After a Sheehan timeout, the Titans finished the set on a 6-1 uprising to take a 2-1 lead in the match.

Outside hitter Sydney Hunt (5 kills) had a pair of clutch kills in that decisive streak, which was served by Emily Musso (14 kills). Samantha Iannone provided the game-winning kill.

Musso, Sheehan’s top offense weapon this season, said the team unity is the main reason for the Titans’ success.

“We are all one big family,” Musso said. “We played really well today. We were hyped and ready to go today. We tried to not have as many mental errors after the first set and we didn’t.”

The home team excelled in all aspects of the game in the final three sets. The serving of Hunt (7 aces) and Mallory Gogliettino (4 aces) typically got the Titans off to great starts in each game. When they weren’t booming aces, the duo made each point difficult for Maloney to return.

That was most evident in Game 4, when Sheehan jumped out to a 12-1 advantage with Hunt and Gogliettino behind the line.

Maloney rallied behind four kills apiece from Polanco and Matias, but it was too late. The Spartans need one win with six matches remaining to qualify for the state tournament.

“In Game 1, we played the way that we need to be successful,” Maloney coach Kevin Savejs said. “We have been showing that in spurts, but we have been too inconsistent. I think Sheehan really showed up in Games 2, 3 and 4. They were getting hands on almost every single ball. Their defense was the real difference maker in those last three games.”


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