BRISTOL - Following an undefeated regular season that featured few challenges along the way, the Bristol Eastern girls volleyball team neared an early ending to their already-shortened season when it lost the first two sets in its CCC postseason match against Avon.
So close to having their goal of a perfect season slip away, the Lancers struggled with inconsistent hitting during early sets of the match on Monday. While serving was one of the ways they struggled to get the ball over the net, they were also without senior Sage Scarritt, who is one of their leaders in hitting percentage, as she was forced to quarantine.
“Sage is doing a really nice job on the right side for us,” Eastern head coach Stefanie Reay said. “Even more than that, she brings an energy and this fire on the court that some of the other girls had to figure out how to bring [in her absence]. They did in the third and fourth and fifth sets, but they had to work through that in the first couple.”
After edging the Falcons out of the sweep to win the third set 25-23, Eastern found its stride and played its best in the final two sets. The Lancers ran through the fourth set 25-7 before mounting a small comeback to take the final set 15-13. Once they were able to find a rhythm with their new rotations, Eastern showed the same dominance it had all season.
“We always dig ourselves in holes and I know we can always dig ourselves right out of it,” senior Zoe Lowe said. “Whenever we get down, I don’t dwell on it. I know this is a team that can get us right back up and win the game, I know that’s the team that we had this year.”
Eastern struggled on serve-receive early in the match, which contributed to much of their struggles. Avon, a well-coached team and reigning Class L champions, capitalized on Eastern’s growing pains within its new lineup to almost pull off the upset.
“In some rotations we couldn’t finish plays and it showed,” Lowe said. “They took advantage of our weakest rotations, which was smart of them and they’re a great team for that. We just didn’t play like a team in the first two [sets] and then in the last three we did.”
Taking Scarritt’s place for the Lancers was sophomore Lauren Bender, who put forth a strong effort in her additional time on the court.
“She did a fantastic job. She’s stepped in there for us in a couple of big matches before,” Reay said. “She’s a little young and inexperienced so there’s a little bit of nerves there, but she really got much more comfortable in the later games as well and did a nice job.”
Eastern is scheduled to face Farmington, who the Lancers already swept on Oct. 1, on Thursday to decide the champion of CCC Region B. And should that match go the way the earlier ones have had for Eastern this season, it means the team will have completed its goals of going undefeated and winning any postseason format the Lancers were given.
“One of the goals the girls had at the beginning this season was to leave it all on the court every time they come out, not just for games, but for practices as well,” Reay said. “I think that’s really what’s going to be taken away from this season that they truly lived it with no regrets. They played their hearts out and they’re going to be proud of themselves and I’m going to be proud of them when they walk away from this season knowing that.”
Matt Hornick can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org