BRISTOL - Up two sets to one, Bristol Central girls volleyball held serve with the fourth set tied at 24-24. With all the pressure on the Rams following a comeback in the set by Maloney, Amanda Warner’s serve hit the net, giving the ball back to the Spartans with the chance to win.
With all of the momentum on its side, Maloney did just that and then took the final set 15 to 9 and handed the Rams a 3-2 loss Monday night to snap their three-game win streak.
It was a match the Rams could have won.
“We started making a lot of mental errors and just couldn’t turn it around,” Bristol Central head coach Holly Willette said. “We dug ourselves holes that we couldn’t get out of and we weren’t communicating great. Our choices could’ve been better.”
Bristol Central won the first and third sets by scores of 25-12 and 25-19. Maloney took the second set and the final two sets with scores of 25-14, 26-24 and 15-9.
The Rams received strong performances out of Xia’ian Carrasco, Kathryn Ross and Ashleigh Clark. Ross had 7 kills, Clark had 18 assists and Carrasco had 9 kills.
“We definitely could have beaten them,” Carrasco said. “We definitely could have swept them in three but it’s been sporadic. It’s a roller coaster for our team.”
For the Spartans, Melanie Polanco was a force, especially on her service.
“[Polanco was] all over the floor,” Willette said. “I think that she’s an outstanding player. She knows what to do with the ball and she does it. She’s got a very good serve and is impressive, good player.”
Polanco had 10 aces, 10 kills and 2 blocks. Her teammate, Carly Massicotte had 27 assists.
The first set was dominated by the Rams’ 8-2 lead to start the set and extended the lead to 18-7 later in the set. Bristol Central had five straight points on service from Amanda St. Pierre and Brianna Saverino.
The second set was controlled by Maloney as it got out to a 21-9 lead, leaving little room for error.
In the third set, it was evenly matched and the score was 9-8 before Saverino won six straight service points leading to Bristol Central being in control at 15-9. The Spartans made a comeback though and got the score to 22-19 before Ross won the final two service points to take it.
“We lack a constant talk,” Carrasco said. “Here and there we talk but we need to be more thorough.”
Things got interesting in the fourth set. With a 2-1 advantage and a 22-13 lead, the Spartans got within two points of the lead at 23-21 and Polanco took over serve. She won three straight points to give Maloney an advantage and the Spartans tied after the Rams ended Polanco’s service. Warner’s serve for Bristol Central hit the net and Massicotte won the next point leading to the Spartans tying it up at 2-2.
With the morally-depleting fourth set, the Rams couldn’t fight back in the fifth set as Maloney was in control.
“We need to learn how to dig deeper and push through to persevere,” Willette said. “I think this is a learning moment for us. We need to learn how to turn it on at the right times and what to do with the ball. We can only grow from this.”
Dan Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @OrencoleDan