CHESHIRE >> Cheshire coach Sue Bavone knew why her players were a bit antsy heading into Game 4 against Amity on Monday at home.
“We were up 2-1 and we still went in there tight,” Bavone said. “I think (we) knew Amity was going to bring it.”
However, the Rams were ready and overcame a late Spartans’ rally to wrap up a 3-1 triumph as the two Southern Connecticut Conference co-champions did battle in a rematch of the 2012 SCC final that was postponed due to weather.
Cheshire improved to 9-0 while dropping Amity to 7-2 overall and 2-2 in the SCC Housatonic Division. The Rams were led by Laura Heynen with 12 kills and four assists, Jillian Haberli with 17 kills and three digs, Sarah Rodgers with 41 assists and Maria Buzzelli with 21 digs. Kathryn Pisano’s 23 assists and Allison Denny’s 11 kills led the Spartans.
Bavone said the Rams may have also had some jitters due to the larger than normal crowd.
“This is probably the largest (crowd) we’ve had all year,” she said. “A lot of the kids haven’t played in front of a crowd like that.”
Amity took advantage early and jumped out to a 17-7 lead in Game 1 before fending off a late Cheshire rally and taking the game 25-23. Cheshire senior Rebecca Ligi (seven kills, three digs) said the Rams were not ready to go down without a fight.
“We wanted to leave everything on the court,” Ligi said. “This is a huge game, we’ve been huge rivals for decades. We didn’t want to lose.”
Cheshire opened up an 18-8 lead in Game 2, en route to a 25-19 triumph to tie it at a game apiece. The Rams took a commanding 2-1 advantage after pulling away in a back-and-forth Game 3, 25-15. Ligi said the team made some adjustments after the Game 1 loss.
“We found out where they were weak and zoned in on their weak spots and we kept hitting them,” she said.
The Rams kept it going in Game 4 and led 24-17. However, the Spartans charged back, using a 5-0 run to make it 24-22. It was too little, too late however, as the Rams held on.
Despite the loss, Thees saw some positives in his team’s late run.
“If they pushed like they pushed in those last few points like they did in Game 4, we might be going into Game 5,” he said.
And even though the Rams are still undefeated after the big victory, Ligi said the team has bigger goals.
“We’re just taking it one step,” she said. “If you lose sight of where you are, you’re gone.”