HIGGANUM >> The Haddam-Killingworth girls volleyball team’s dream of an undefeated season came to end Monday night.
Defending Shoreline Conference champion Hale Ray snapped the Cougars 18-game winning streak with a 3-1 victory before a raucous crowd at the H-K Fieldhouse.
It was evident from the outset that the senior-laden Noises were a different club than the one that suffered a 3-1 loss to the Cougars back Sept. 30.
Hale Ray came out firing on all cylinders and took the first set 25-14. After H-K bounced back and evened things with a 25-21 win in the second set, the Noises took the last two sets 25-22 and 25-20 to extend its unbeaten streak to 10 games.
“We’re improving every day,” said Hale Ray senior setter Mary Pease, who collected 25 assists and 10 digs. “We communicated a lot tonight and when we made a mistake we shook it off. It was no big deal. We’d get it back.”
Pease missed the first match between the teams, which appear to be headed on a collision course in the SLC tournament.
“We knew we weren’t at our best the last time we played them so we were excited to see what we could do when we had our full complement of players and our entire lineup,” Hale Ray coach Sue Miner said. “We hung in there tonight and did a good job.”
The Noises (16-3) showed terrific balance in their outside hitting game. Senior Sage Connors notched a game-high 15 kills, while junior Callie Burke contributed seven kills and Aidan Fiala chipped in five kills.
“We have a little less depth than last year but much more experience spread throughout the entire lineup so we’re really fortunate,” Miner said. “Mary is not only a very talented setter but she also has lots of options. She can have confidence setting to whomever she wants in the lineup whether they’re in the front row or the back row.
The Cougars (18-1) were led by junior setter Kate Porter, who dished out a game-high 34 assists, and junior outside hitter Sam Mohammed, who had 13 kills.
H-K’s Achilles heel was its serving. The Cougars fell behind early in the fourth set and couldn’t sustain a rally by missing 10 serves.
“You can tell that we were a young team tonight,” Haddam-Killingworth coach Robin Callender said. “How can you beat a team of Hale Ray’s caliber with 10 missed serves? And look at how close it was. We didn’t give up so there are positives to learn from this.”
Senior Sarah Porter tallied 12 kills, five digs and three aces, sophomore Kristen Dansereau finished with six kills, and sophomore Emily Jennings had five kills and four aces for the Cougars.
“We’re still number one in the Shoreline (tourney),” Callender said. “We just need to regroup. There are a couple of things that we need to work on. Hale Ray knew they wanted it and they worked for it tonight.”
Senior libero Krya Vumback spearheaded the Noises defense with 12 digs while Connors added 10 digs and four blocks.
“It wasn’t a clean match by any stretch of the imagination for us,” Miner said. “We fought through some of our inconsistencies. We were tested and pushed and still managed to come together and be effective and win.”