MILFORD — Two teams. Two very different directions.
For both the Shelton and Foran volleyball squads, Wednesday evening’s contest exemplified the types of season each are having.
The Gaels have lost just three contests, all against perennial powers in Trumbull, Stamford and Amity, and were not happy coming off a thumping at the hands of Trumbull in their last match. That unhappiness was taken out on the Lions as Shelton rolled to a 25-12, 20-25, 25-16, 25-11 Southern Connecticut Conference interdivision victory at Edna L. Fraser Gymnasium at Foran High.
“We are 11-3 overall,” Shelton coach LeAnne Bianchine said. “Trumbull does not have any holes. Our three losses have been to Trumbull, Amity and Stamford, and we took Stamford and Amity to five games. We have lost to three of the best teams.”
Against the Lions, Shelton seemed to have all the answers early and, aside from a second game loss, was in control.
Junior Reem Abdel-Hack proved to be a difference-maker as she not only hurt Foran with nine kills, but her play at the net with eight blocks stifled many Foran rallies.
“They obviously are a good team,” Foran coach Julie Johnson said. “We were able to come back in the second game, which I was happy to see. We are working on reducing our unforced errors. We want to get better every day and reduce the unforced errors. We are working on us, and not worrying about the other team.”
While Abdel-Hack was a thorn in the side of the Lions, sophomore Jessica Jayakar was just as good. Jayakar’s play defensively was impressive as she kept Shelton rallies alive with 14 digs, while her offensive numbers were solid as well with six aces, six kills, and two assists.
Senior Grace Boles also proved to be a handful for Foran on both sides of the ball. Boles had six digs, and added five kills and four aces.
“We are working on shutting teams down,” Bianchine said. “We want to shut down teams and not let anyone get away from us.”
The Gaels controlled play from the start, jumping out to a 9-2 lead in the first game after an ace by Jayakar. When Foran got within 17-7, Abdel-Hack was there with a kill to get the Gaels going in the right direction again.
Foran’s attempt at a comeback in the opening game fell short as too many unforced errors never allowed the Lions to get on a roll.
“We have to work on those unforced errors,” Johnson said. “They have a lot of power over there. We needed to be better.”
The Lions, who dropped to 3-11 after their sixth straight loss, were better in the second game, overcoming an early deficit to take a 13-9 lead. A kill by Makenna Prete gave Foran a 20-16 lead, before another kill by Robin Jans had Foran within three points of a second game victory.
Shelton never let Foran take over the match after that. A kill by Jayakar in the third game gave Shelton a 19-13 advantage, before Abdel-Hack’s block increased the margin to 21-14. Kasidy Quiles closed the game with a kill for a nine-point victory.
Samantha O’Neill led Foran with six kills.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Reem Abdel-Hack, Shelton. The junior kept the Lions from getting started at the net. Her play, which included nine kills and eight blocks, had Foran looking for answers throughout the contest.
“Reem (Abdel-Hack) did a great job. She was really on fire tonight. Trumbull showed up in our last match. We did not. I thought that lit a little fire under us tonight. That helps after taking a beating last night.”
-Shelton coach LeAnne Bianchine