BRISTOL - The Bristol Eastern girls volleyball team picked up its third consecutive win of 2021, sweeping Wolcott 3-0 (25-14, 25-21, 25-20).
The Lancers improved their record 3-1 to start the season led by 16 kills and two blocks from senior Hannah Webber and senior Alex Shorette, who filled her team’s stat sheet with seven kills, six digs and four aces with a .267 hit percentage.
Eastern proved to be the better team, looking its best during a dominant first set, and then erasing deficits in the next two sets to compensate for mistakes from earlier. The team played its best when holding serve and finished the day with 15 service aces.
“I think the girls talked very well, I think that we recovered when we didn't have a perfect pass and did something positive with the ball,” Eastern head coach Stephanie Reay said.
The Lancers won the first set smoothly, building and protecting an early lead that resulted in a 25-14 win. Junior Lauren Bender won the first point of the set with a spike worked with Webber at the front of the net to take a 13-6 lead, Bender finished the day with five kills and five aces. Holding focus for the remainder of the set, a spike from Webber barely stayed in front of the back line to win the first set.
Eastern failed to replicate the success of the first set going forward as Wolcott took a 7-4 early in the second set, which was its first lead of the day. Losing the cohesion and consistency that allowed them to run away with the first set, the Lancers were unable to get within three points of the Eagles until late in the second set.
“We lost a lot of focus,” Reay said. “Wolcott’s intensity definitely picked up in the second and third sets. We’re working on playing a calm, level-headed game, so that was something we definitely had to work on in the second and third sets. It was just mental mistakes we made, serving errors and things like that.”
Reay called a timeout facing a 12-9 deficit in the second set, but the teams continued to exchange points and Wolcott’s lead lived on. The set shifted once Eastern cut Wolcott’s two points and forced the Eagles to call a timeout. The Lancers won the first three points after the break and found a rhythm that carried them to win the set 25-21.
Eastern finished with nine service errors and 15 hitting errors, most of which came in the final two sets and allowed Wolcott to remain competitive and almost win those sets.
The third set started out similarly to the second as Wolcott won the first four points to build an early lead. Eastern won the next four points to tie the match and the teams went back and forth from there.
“I think we settled in a little bit in the second and third sets and were reacting more than being proactive,” Reay said.
Trailing 12-9, the Lancers secured their hold on the soon-to-be final set by winning nine points unanswered to take an 18-12 lead. With that sizable cushion, Eastern cruised to the end of the set and Webber capped off the win with one final spike as an exclamation point.
The Lancers will pursue their first road win of the season when they return to the court Friday to face Middletown (0-1). After graduating a hoard of seniors from last year’s team, Reay said she is pleased with how quickly this year’s group is improving and growing.
“It’s actually great because the girls know that we’re open to anything, every position is open,” Reay said. “They’re working really hard to build a team mentality, which we had. We had a really good team dynamic the last couple of years and they know they have to work at it.”
Matt Hornick can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or email@example.com.