WALLINGFORD — The Sheehan volleyball team had an extra jolt. Tuesday marked the first time fans could watch in person this season.
The result was a spirited effort that saw the Titans fall 3-1 to SCC power Cheshire in a match that had multiple momentum swings. The Rams won 25-15, 21-25, 27-25, and 26-24.
Caitlyn Hunt had 12 kills and three digs and Emily Jockle had 24 assists for the Titans (2-3), who were feistier than the four-game match would indicate.
The Rams (5-0) won the first game easily, but the ensuing games were well-played, back-and-forth struggles. That’s where the fans provided a spark that helped make up for the talent gap.
“I think it (having fans) definitely helps,” Sheehan coach Victoria Sperrazza said. “The first couple games, the energy wasn’t there. When it’s so quiet, there’s nothing to feed off of, and they were able to feed off it tonight.”
Still, the Rams’ experience and talent prevailed when Hannah Portal (8 kills, 4 aces, 2 digs) smashed home consecutive kills to win it after Sheehan used a 7-0 spurt to tie the fourth game at 24.
The Rams, coming off a 17-6 season, got all they could handle from the Titans, who were 9-13 in 2019.
After losing the first game handily, Sheehan jumped out to a big lead and hung on to win the second game.
The match point came when Cheshire was out of rotation on a serve attempt, much to the delight of the Titans’ first crowd of the season.
Fans hadn’t been allowed to watch in person at Sheehan until Tuesday. Instead, the Titans had been streaming the matches through the National Federation of High Schools Network.
Starting Tuesday, one parent/guardian is allowed per family to indoor events in Wallingford, up to four at outdoor events. Visiting fans are still not allowed.
“(The fans) gave us a lot of energy to come back,” said Sheehan senior Lydia Dellipoali, who racked up 12 kills and eight digs. “We lost a couple girls over the weekend with quarantine, so it (having fans) helped.”
Sheehan will probably lament letting the third game get away. It was there for the taking. The Titans led 20-13 at one point.
They couldn’t close out the Rams, though. Cheshire rallied for seven points down twice and ended the game on a 14-5 run, which was capped by an ace from Portal.
Then came the late Titans’ rally in the fourth game, a 7-0 run that was extinguished by Portal’s ferocious kills.
“It’s frustrating, but I think we played to their level,” Sperrazza said. “We didn’t give in. We didn’t give up. We just kept fighting.”
“We haven’t won a set against Cheshire since I’ve been on varsity,” Dellipoali said. “Almost winning two others is definitely a booster for the season.”
Alenna Zebarth and Avery Mola added eigth kills apiece for Cheshire, which will travel to Woodbridge to take on unbeaten Amity (5-0) on Thursday.
Mola added five blocks. Sarah Holley dealt 25 assists while also recording seven aces, four kills and four digs.