SHELTON >> Amity coach Seth Davis has a good read on his team. So when the Spartans were about to blow a two-game lead and enter a fifth game against Shelton Wednesday evening, Davis called a time out.
The difference this time was Davis let the players figure it out, staying out of the huddle. Amity responded by going on a 17-7 run to win the third game and defeat Shelton 3-1 in a Southern Connecticut Conference Housatonic Division game at Shelton High.
“Sometimes you have to let them play the game and figure it out,” Davis said after his team improved to 6-1 with the 25-18, 25-22, 14-25, 25-23 win. “I just wanted to take myself out of it. They responded very well.”
Trailing 16-8 in the fourth game after the Gaels used a kill by Casey O’Connor, the Spartans bounced back from the time out with a booming kill by Katriana Helfenbein to set the tone.
A kill by Danielle Nordyk got Amity within 17-13 and after Shelton’s Mackenzie Bures gave the Gaels a 20-14 advantage with a kill, Amity took its play to another level, finishing the game by scoring 11 of the final 14 points.
Micaela Cardozo, who finished with 12 service points, started the run with a kill, then went to the service line where she served the next seven points. Kathleen Walsh had two kills for Amity in the run, Cardozo added two aces, and freshman Abigail Harbinson made her presence felt on the right side with a key block and kill.
“We talked about picking ourselves up,” Cardozo said of the time out. “We were at the low point in the game and we had to have each other’s backs. We had to keep our focus.”
A kill by Harbinson extended Amity’s lead to 23-21, before Shelton evened the final game at 23 on kills by Kendall Kreager and O’Connor.
“It felt good to step up and get the blocks and help the team,” Harbinson said. “It is a confidence booster.”
Any thoughts of a Shelton comeback quickly went away as a kill by Walsh put the Spartans one point away and Nordyk ended the match with a block.
“We had to pick our confidence up,” Cardozo said. “You could feel it in the crowd and from the bench when we started to come back.”
Amity opened the match with a seven-point win in the first game and used a pair of kills by Cardozo to seal the second game after Shelton had fought back within 23-22.
“Abi (Harbinson) played well as a freshman,” Davis said. “She make freshman decisions and then she makes mature decisions. She is learning and doing well. Katriana (Helfenbein) played very well in that fourth game and Micaela played very well and was excellent with her defense.”
The Gaels jumped out to a 7-3 lead in the third game on an ace by Saara Vohra, and led 12-6 on a kill by Victoria Demko. Amity got as close as 19-13 on a kill by Jessica Ferraiolo, but the Spartans were their own worst enemy with the Gaels scoring the last six points of the game on five Amity errors and an ace by Carly Nicholas.
“We could not put the (fourth) game away,” Shelton coach LeAnne Bianchine said after her team fell to 5-2. “We have to find that killer instinct. It has to come from them on the court. They have to figure out how to find it. I am absolutely okay to being 5-2 at this point. We struggled last year. I think we were 2-8 after ten. So, we are on the right track. We are a young team. We have a lot of youth on the team.”
The Gaels looked poised to force a fourth game, jumping out to a 7-0 lead in the fourth game on kills by O’Connor and Demko. A kill by Kreager increased Shelton’s lead to 12-5 and O’Connor’s kill had the Gaels looking at a fifth game with a 16-8 lead.
O’Connor led Shelton with 10 kills and five blocks, while Demko and Bures each had six digs and five kills.
Walsh led Amity with 14 kills, Cardozo added 13 kills and seven blocks, and Helfenbein had 11 kills.
Sophomore Jaiden Williams ran the Amity offense with 39 assists.
Amity 3, Shelton 1
Game scores 25-18, 25-22, 14-25, 25-23
Notes: A—Kathleen Walsh- 14 kills 4 digs, Jailen Williams – 3 digs 34 assists, Katie Helfenbah- 11 kills 1 block. S—Victoria Demko- 5 kills 6 digs, Casey O’Connor- 10 kills 5 blocks, Mackenzie Bures- 5 kills 6 digs
Records: Amity 6-1, Shelton 5-2