GLASTONBURY - It was a rematch of last yearâ€™s state championship Monday night as the Newington boys volleyball team faced off against South Windsor in the Class M semifinals.
The Indians came out on fire winning the first two sets 25-20 and 25-16 without having trailed the Bobcats.
In the third set South Windsor grabbed its first lead of the night early and Newington needed a spark.
It came at the net as Teddy Fravel, who delivered point after point to cut the Indians deficit from six points down to two.
His energy sparked No. 1 Newington to a 3-0 sweep of No. 5 South Windsor and with it the Indians (20-2) are on their way to their sixth Class M state final appearance in the past eight seasons. The Indians took the third set 25-19.
â€śIt felt really great, Iâ€™ve always dreamed of these moments when I can come into a game and change the tide and thatâ€™s what I knew I was gonna do,â€ť Fravel said. â€śI saw we were low on energy and we looked like we were gonna give up the set, I knew I had to pull us back somehow and thatâ€™s what I did.â€ť
Fravel finished with eight kills and four blocks.
While he brought the momentum in the third set, Leonel Caceres and Louis Egbuna led the Indians all night.
Caceres finished with 12 kills, 13 digs and two aces. Egbuna had nine kills and six digs.
In the first set each team traded points until the Indians took a 7-6 lead.
From that point on, Newington controlled the match. There were six ties in the first set and the Indians led the entire second set.
South Windsor came out strong in the third and got off to a 13-7 lead. The six-point advantage was the Bobcats largest of the night.
Fravel erased it quickly.
â€śWe knew we were going to be in for a battle, especially when we won the first two,â€ť Newington head coach Curt Burns said. â€śI told the guys nothing has been decided, we just have the lead and expect South [Windsor] to come out strong and they did. And then my guys fortunately got their game back together and tied it up and then we were able to close in three, which I thought was very important.â€ť
Newington will face No. 3 Joel Barlow (14-6) in the finals on Thursday night at 5 p.m. at Shelton High School. Barlow beat Lewis Mills to reach the finals.
Unlike Lewis Mills, a team the Indians defeated twice this season (3-2, 3-0), Newington will be seeing Barlow for the first time this year.
The opponent, the seed, or the place doesnâ€™t seem to matter to the Indians that have developed a winning culture on the floor with three of the last Class M championships belonging to them.
â€śWeâ€™re very confident,â€ť Caceres said. â€śIt doesnâ€™t matter if we were the No. 32 seed in a 32 team bracket, weâ€™re coming in swinging as if weâ€™re going to win the game. Weâ€™re going to play our hearts out and deliver another one.â€ť
Dan Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org