CHESHIRE — The seasons may change, but the rivalries remain the same. No one knows that better than Amity and Cheshire on the volleyball court.
After two consecutive seasons of being eliminated in the postseason by the Spartans, Cheshire got a tiny bit of satisfaction Thursday evening with a 3-1 victory over Amity in a Southern Connecticut Conference match up at Cheshire High.
With the 25-20, 25-15, 23-25, 25-16 victory, Cheshire improved to 2-0 on the year. Amity fell to 1-1.
“We have a long way to go,” Cheshire coach Sue Bavone said. “We both are completely different teams from last year. They are working on things as are we. This was a litmus test for us. I am happy with the win. It is a big win for us. We did some good things tonight.”
The match served as a reminder each team is clearly in a different place than when the season ended a year ago. Missed serves and inefficient passing hurt both teams throughout.
“We definitely have some inexperience out there,” Amity coach Seth Davis said. “We have two players from last year’s state championship team playing varsity. Everyone else is new. But, they are a good team. They play well. They play fast. They serve hard. It is game two, but it is good to play a good team like that.”
In the end, it was the veterans of the Rams who led the way. Seniors Emma Watkinson, Julia Bartiet, Ari Perlini, and Lindsey Abramson stepped up and showed the younger group they way.
Watkinson ran the offense with 27 assists, four kills, and two aces, while adding six digs on the defensive side. Perlini added 11 digs, Abramson had 10 kills, four digs, and three aces, while Bartiet had seven kills and three digs.
“You are only as good as your senior leaders,” Bavone said. “They did a nice job. They are expected to do that.”
“It is always tough when we play them,” Watkinson said of Amity. “We came out with a lot of fire tonight. We wanted to beat them. We would have liked to have done it in three, but we were able to get it done. We brought the fire tonight.”
After failing to wrap up the contest in the third game, despite holding a 20-16 lead, the Rams prevailed in the fourth game. A kill by sophomore Jenna Stickney put the Rams up 12-9, before two more by Stickney increased the lead to 18-10 and 20-12.
A pair of aces by the Rams’ Alenna Zebarth increased the margin to 23-12 before Cheshire closed out the match.
The third game epitomized the teaching moments both teams will go through as each team made numerous errors. Cheshire finished with 20 in the third game as Bavone inserted different players into the contest.
“We beat ourselves in that third game,” Bavone said. “We made too many errors. But, you have to keep working hard. We wanted to get in different personnel so they can see what it is like to play in pressure situations. We want to get the kids in pressure situations.
To Amity’s credit, the Spartans showed plenty of fight in the third, coming from 20-16 down to finish on a 9-3 run to extend the contest.
A kill by Amity’s Gabby McGovern got Amity within 20-18, before two Cheshire errors put the Spartans on top 21-20. Cheshire fought back from a 24-20 deficit to get within 24-23 on kills by Abramson and Bartiet, but Amity prevailed to force a fourth game.
Senior Lauren Campos led Amity with 10 kills, Zoe DiZenzo ran the offense with 13 assists, and Haile Ebert led the defense with 22 digs.