Lyman Memorial stuns top-seeded Seymour 15-13 in Game 5, advances to Class S finals: pic.twitter.com/2ZZoTOdRH3
— GameTimeCT (@GameTimeCT) November 19, 2015
GLASTONBURY — Lyman Memorial volleyball coach Marty Gomez had no enchanted potion or even magic words for his team Wednesday night. Even to him, his Bulldogs appeared all but dead, trailing big in the fourth game and unable to do much to stop Seymour’s powerful hitters in the Class S semifinals.
But somehow Lyman Memorial found something — whatever it was — and ran off 11 of the next 12 points, won Game 4 and Game 5 to stun top-seeded Seymour 3-2 (14-25, 25-23, 17-25, 25-22, 15-13) and advance to the state finals for the second time in three seasons at Glastonbury High.
“I don’t know, we just turned the tide,” Gomez said. “There were times where everyone in the gym was like, ‘It’s over.’ But the kids just kept fighting and turned the tide. Unbelievable.”
It was a tough loss for Seymour, which was seeking its first state volleyball title after losing to Haddam-Killingworth in last year’s Class S final.
The Wildcats (22-2) went through the regular season unbeaten, dropping only three sets in the process, before being upset by Oxford in the NVL semifinals two weeks ago. They hadn’t dropped a set in the first three CIAC Tournament matches, either, and rolled through the first set Wednesday behind All-State senior Jesica Litwa.
The Bulldogs (23-3) answered in Game 2, although it took six set points before they finally held on, 25-23. But it looked like any momentum they had was gone as Seymour jumped out to a 13-4 start in Game 3, again behind Litwa (20 kills, 6 blocks), and cruised to a 25-17 victory.
After Game 4 started 5-5, the Wildcats scored 10 of the next 12 points with senior Jillian Murphy and juniors Shari Minalga and Samantha Diorio-Torres contributing. Lyman Memorial used its final time out down 15-7 and there was little to think a comeback in the cards.
Except there was.
“We just had a tough time getting the ball up to our hitters and they had some tough serves,” Seymour coach Cathey Federowicz said. “So then we were just putting the ball over and not really hitting like we were in Game 1 and 3. When we were hitting, they couldn’t stop us.”
It was Lyman Memorial’s fifth Game 5 of the season. It had won them all, including by an identical 15-13 score over Morgan in the quarterfinals.
The Bulldogs raced to a 5-1 lead. But Seymour, behind Litwa again, answered to tie it at 5-5. Neither team had more than a two-point lead the rest of the way.
At 13-13, Abigail Bundy was able to get a kill off a Seymour block out of bounds and libero Kathryn Konow stepped up with an ace on match point to end it.
“We served strong and consistent and didn’t give points away, and then we got some momentum and we starting scrambling and making plays,” Gomez said. “We’ve been to fifth games, and I told the girls going into the fifth game, ‘We’ve been here before and we’ve been really successful here before’.”
While a bitter pill for Seymour to swallow in the end, its senior class ended their careers going 48-4 the last two seasons.
“We played so hard all season long and tonight they did a terrific job for most of the night,” Federowicz said. “We just fell a little short in the end. It’s a great group. Really our success is because of these seniors. It will be tough to replace them. Jes dominated tonight and that’s what she’s done all season. How do you replace that? You don’t.”