NEWINGTON >> School vacation got in the way of this volleyball match living up to expectations.
Newington, at full strength, defeated a short-handed East Hartford team in straight sets Wednesday evening in the Richard E. Rogalski Gymnasium.
The Indians (4-0) never trailed and the scored was tied just once throughout the entire match. East Hartford fell to 2-1.
“We expected to get a challenge from East Hartford and we would prefer to play them at full strength,” Newington coach Curt Burns said. “We want to play the best teams that we can play.”
Despite the rather easy victory, Burns was able to take away some positives from this match.
“The guys are really focused [and] they’re really concerned about what we do on our side of the net versus the other team,” he said. “Sometimes players don’t always play their fullest against opponents. But today was a good example of just worrying about what we do, doing our system and I think we did well.”
The Indians served very well, recording 14 aces in the match. None were more prominent than the three that ended the first set.
Long Du came off the bench with Newington leading 21-10 in the first set and quickly knocked in two perfect jump serves. After an East Hartford error during serve receive, Du finished the set with another. The Indians took the first set 25-10.
“That’s one of our strengths,” said Burns of his team’s service game. “We spend a lot of time in practice on our jump serve. We call it ‘service pressure.’ Don’t just put the ball over the net or to a side. Do something with it so it makes it difficult for them to pass the ball and I think you saw that today.”
The second set started out with the Hornets showing a little more life, especially after Sanjae Holloway recorded a kill early on and after a block. After that, Newington went on a roll, scoring 23 of the next 27 points. Senior Josh Scaringe had two aces and three kills in the second set alone.
Riley McManus, the primary setter, finished the match with 26 assists.
The errors just kept piling up for the Hornets.
“The inexperience against a really good team from Newington kind of hurt us,” East Hartford coach Martin Martinez said. “I threw some kids into the fire. They had their chance to prove themselves and they really didn’t step up to the plate today.”
Ten miscues in the final set pretty much told the story for East Hartford. The Hornets couldn’t get the kills they needed either. All but one point in the final set came on a Newington error, a Donovan Harris kill.
Newington won the third set 25-9.
“Our plan was to try and stop the middles, because I know they run a lot of plays in the middle and I specifically set up a defense for them,” Martinez said. “We were in the spots, we just didn’t execute.”
The middle blockers, Jon Cloutier and Flavio Lici led the Indians with 10 and six kills respectively. Evan Mach and Connor Ericson each had four.
“It was one of these events where I was fortunate to get everyone in, everyone got some court time,” Burns said.
Newington’s schedule picks up next week when school is back in session. Tomorrow it will play a scrimmage against Choate, a game that counts for the private school, before returning to CIAC play Monday versus Fermi at home.
“I think we’re playing really well as a team,” Burns said. “They’re really buying into what we do and that’s really good so it keeps the whole unit really strong.”
East Hartford will be full strength when they travel to Southington on April 21.