— Will Aldam (@AldamWill) October 3, 2019
REDDING — After an uncharacteristic 1-2 start to the season, including an SWC loss to Masuk, Joel Barlow’s girls’ volleyball team continued its surge Wednesday against rival Newtown.
Newtown and Barlow have combined to win 10 of the last 11 SWC tournament championships, with Barlow topping Newtown in the last three championship matches.
Barlow swept Newtown 25-22, 25-19, 25-19 to improve to 5-2.
Two loses in its first three games is rare for Barlow, as the program has won seven straight SWC championships and only lost one game (to Newtown) in its 2018 Class L state championship season.
“We are slowly but surely building belief in ourselves.” Barlow coach Carol Asplund said. “Losing six seniors, the girls came into the season having a hard time defining themselves. I knew that they were good and that we had a lot of work to do, but little by little we are building belief and that is huge, and it shows on the floor.”
Newtown and Barlow traded points for most of the first set and the Nighthawks found themselves ahead with a 22-21 lead. Down by one late in the first set, Barlow shifted the momentum on a well-placed kill by Kayleigh Emanuelson to tie it before going on a three-point run, riding the serve of Isabel Llach to win the first set 25-22.
In the second set, Barlow got out to a 10-4 lead early and never allowed the gap to close, taking the set without much threat 25-19.
The Falcons went on to complete the sweep with another 25-19 victory in the third set. Barlow has not lost a set in its four-game winning streak.
“It feels good, but we have a lot to work on,” Asplund said. “They made a lot of mistakes, we made a lot of mistakes and I expect that they are going to get better and hopefully we can get better, too. It is always a tough match when we play Newtown, so coming out of this game overconfident that next time we see them that we’ll get the same result is a huge mistake.”
Newtown, which had won four straight, including a 3-2 decision over Darien of the FCIAC, drops to 4-2. Its other loss was 3-2 to St. Joseph.
When asked if her team resembles Barlow teams of recent years, Asplund replied, “Yes, but we can’t get too complacent because that is when you enter a game not being mentally prepared and not being ready for a team when they all get psyched up to play us. We have to expect that every team is going to come in and play us hard, and we have to do the same.”
Barlow will look to make it five straight at Immaculate on Friday. Newtown plays host to Notre Dame-Fairfield on Friday.