EAST HAVEN >> Longtime Lyman Memorial baseball and girls volleyball mentor Marty Gomez finally got his state championship.
Powered by tournament MVP Andee Bender, and seniors Kathryn Konow and Abigail Bundy, the Bulldogs captured the school’s first Class S volleyball title with a 25-20, 25-20, and 25-18 sweep over Hale Ray on Saturday afternoon at East Haven High School.
“I’ve always said that I don’t want to go through my career defined as whether I won a state title and I don’t think I would have,” Gomez said. “But five times coming to one of these and finally we’re able to get one. It’s nice.”
Gomez guided the Bulldogs baseball team to the Class S finals in 1993 and 1995.
“Out of any team that I’ve ever had this was the one that deserved it the most,” Gomez added. “This was the most experienced and probably the most skilled to be able to do something like this.”
Top-seeded Lyman Memorial (22-1), which was making its third trip to the finals in four years, avenged a five-set loss to Coventry in last year’s championship game and to say that Bender, Konow and Bundy were on a mission is an understatement.
“I couldn’t be happier for them,” Gomez said. “We had Coventry right there a year ago and we couldn’t finish. They really were on a mission. From the way we regrouped and recovered, to the dedication in the summer and right from the beginning of the season was really impressive.”
Bender notched a game-high 15 kills, while Bundy tallied 13 kills.
“Kudos to Lyman Memorial,” Hale Ray coach Suzy Miner said. “We had no answer for their outside hitters. Our block, which is usually one of the feathers in our cap, didn’t work tonight. So they took advantage of everything that they should have. They’re a championship team and they deserved it.”
The third-seeded Noises (22-4) entered the game on a 16 game winning streak, including a sweep over defending champion Coventry in the semifinals. The two-time Shoreline Conference champions, however, never got its offense untracked against the Bulldogs stingy defense.
“They took us out of our system right from the beginning and usually we’re a team that can bounce back but we weren’t able tonight,” Miner said.
Seniors Sage Connors and Aidan Fiala paced the Noises with five kills apiece. Senior setter Mary Pease dished out 15 assists and also had 11 digs, while Connors added five blocks.
“It’s an amazing thing that we got this far,” Connors said. “But then on the other hand, of course it’s disappointing that we didn’t bring home the trophy because deep down we all came here and were ready to win this.”
Konow finished with 21 assists, 12 digs and eight kills. Junior Meg Verizzi also had 21 assists, while junior libero Kathryn Meese notched a game-high 22 digs for the ECC champion Bulldogs.
“We knew there were some good hitters over there so we just had to keep working,” Bender said. “We practiced and prepared. We said this is our time and we have to go for it. It’s a euphoric feeling. There’s nothing better.”