GLASTONBURY >> Prior to the year, Haddam-Killingworth coach Rich Langer said this would be his last. He’s coached 40 years of volleyball at H-K and is the only coach the program has ever had.
But he did have second thoughts on leaving.
“As I’ve said for 36 of those 40 years, there’s always going to be a good freshman coming up,” he said. “I know my wife used to hear that and she would say, ‘oh, no.’ ”
She doesn’t have to worry about that anymore as the top-seeded Cougars downed second-seeded Seymour 3-0 (25-19, 25-18, 25-16) in the Class S final at Glastonbury High Saturday. The title is Haddam-Killingworth’s first since 1991, second in school history and it came in Langer’s last match as coach.
“It sank in on that last point,” he said. “This is it.”
Olivia Parmelee was named Most Outstanding Player of the Class S tournament and had 20 digs and 13 kills. Lauren Brough added 15 digs and six kills. As she fought back tears, she said the team wanted to win a title for Langer ever since he told them he was stepping down.
“I hope we really made him proud,” said the senior, as tears began to well up in her eyes. “Because we really wanted to do this for him, more than for ourselves, we just wanted to do the best we can.”
Meanwhile, Seymour’s search of its first state crown comes up short. The Wildcats rebounded from getting knocked out of the Class S first round last year, won the NVL title, went to the state final for the first time since 2005 and made coach Cathy Federowicz very proud.
“My kids came so far this year from where they were last year,” she said. “I couldn’t be prouder.”
This is H-K’s second title this year. The Cougars stopped Morgan’s attempt for a 23rd straight Shoreline Conference title with a 3-0 sweep in the SLC championship game. The culmination of the Cougars great year started with three convincing victories against the Wildcats.
“I’m totally surprised at how we were able to handle Seymour,” Langer said. “I’ve watched them against Morgan. I guess the kids did what was in our game plan.”
The Cougars led throughout in game one, responded to each Wildcats run and put them away 25-19. In Game two, the Cougars did the same, controlling the game at the net and putting the Wildcats away again. In Game 3, H-K took a 10-point lead and cruised to the state crown.
“We’re taking really hard swings and a lot of risks,” Brough said. “Until it clicks, it’s not going to work. When it starts to work, then you just own and that’s what happened today and the whole entire season. We’ve stayed aggressive and eventually it clicked.”
When the match was over, the Cougars stormed the court and then searched for Langer. They all gave him a hug as the coach smiled in his final match. Langer said this was a dream finish with a great team.
“I hardly had to do any coaching this year,” said the coach, as he smiled. “It was fun.”