BRISTOL - In an early-season showdown between two traditional state powers, the Southington girls volleyball team came out on top Wednesday night in a battle at Bristol Eastern, sweeping to a 25-16, 25-23, 25-17 victory.
Southington (3-0) dominated all three sets.
“It was big [the win]. Eastern always battles,” head coach Richard Hietz said. “We’ve had so many battles in this gym, so many battles in our gym. We’re neighboring towns. Stacy runs a great program. It’s always a fun night for the kids.”
He continued, “For the coaches, scores never really signify how the battle goes. I’m happy we did some things we needed to do today, and we did some things we have to clean up, but you don’t learn a lot about yourself unless you play teams that are really good, like Bristol Eastern.”
The Lancers (1-1) fell behind early in each of the three sets and could not put together enough long runs to make up for lost ground.
The struggle began in the beginning for Bristol Eastern.
“We played down,” junior Aliana Rivoira said, “then we realized we have to pick our energy up, play with the teams. We tried to work harder to beat the teams that we know we can win. I think we definitely could have won this game, but I think we’re ready to work hard and win our next game.”
Contributions came from all over the Blue Knights’ offense. While the team had a total of 26 kills, Steph Zera picked up 25 assists. Libero Nolyn Allen led the team with 23 digs.
“They were a great team,” Allen said. “It was awesome to have some really good competition. I think we worked together very well, we communicated very well, we were all moving together. I feel like it just worked tonight.”
While Southington was feeling it, Bristol Eastern was not.
“I think we came into this game feeling a sense of confidence, like we had prepared for the game,” head coach Stacy Rivoira said. “I think as the game wore on they started putting pressure on us and they started swinging at us. We didn’t have a lot of answers for that all the time.”
Coach Rivoira said the team felt inconsistent. The Lancers had a total of 17 kills, six of them from freshman Zoe Lowe.
“This is a big game for [Lowe],” coach Rivoira said. “As a freshman, never having played in a game like this, she’s an experienced athlete, but there’s a lot of pressure for her as an outside hitter. There’s a high expectation and I felt like she felt a big weight on her shoulders tonight, so I think we need to continue to balance out our hitters like we know we can do.”
Although Bristol Eastern is on the young end of the spectrum, coach Rivoira knows what they are capable of.
“I expect our passers to pass to target and I know that they can do it,” coach Rivoira said. “They’ve had this experience last year, for most of them. We don’t usually get tested this early on in our season, so I think it’s a good predictor of where we need to go. We are nowhere near where we want to be right now.”
Although the Lancers came into the game thinking they were going to come out on top, they now know what needs to be worked upon for next time.
“We have a lot of talent on this team,” coach Rivoira said. “We have a lot of heart and a lot of drive and all of them want to get better. In no way do I feel like this represents where we will be, it’s just where we are right now.”
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860)801-5096 or firstname.lastname@example.org