CLINTON >> Hale Ray senior Sage Connors said that the Noises are a different club since losing to Haddam-Killingworth back on September 30.
Despite playing without senior setter Mary Pease, who was injured, the 3-1 loss against the unbeaten Cougars rattled the defending Shoreline Conference champions.
“That game kind of made us take a step back and reevaluate what we were doing,” Connors said. “Since then we’ve been running a lot more offensive options. We have six different options on the court. I feel like we have more confidence in our team.”
Pease quickly returned to the lineup and the results have been mesmerizing.
Hale Ray captured its eighth straight victory on Wednesday, ruining Morgan’s Senior Night with a 25-22, 25-13 and 25-22 sweep in Clinton. It also marked the Noises eighth straight 3-0 win.
Yup, Hale Ray hasn’t lost a set in October.
“I think carrying the weight from winning a conference championship from last season, in the beginning of the year we weren’t exactly sure where our place was going to be and how things were falling in,” Hale Ray coach Sue Miner said. “Now that we’ve seen everybody in the conference we’re better prepared for the second time around and the second half of the season.”
Connors powered the Noises with a game-high 15 kills. She also had four blocks, four digs and two aces.
Connors’ kill broke a 22-22 tie in the first set. Hale Ray also trailed 22-18 in the third set before Connors reeled off seven straight service points to end the match.
“Sage is definitely one of the strongest players in Class S, never mind our conference,” Miner said. “She’s worked really hard in the offseason and the summer time. The same with Mary. And they’re both going to play at the next level.”
Pease, who has committed to Franklin Pierce University (Rindge, N.H.), dished out 21 assists and had three kills, while senior Aidan Fiala contributed five blocks and five kills for Hale Ray (14-3).
“We struggled a little bit in the beginning of the season with just continuing our play in hard matches,” said Connors, who has a visit with the University of Rhode Island today. “So with a lot of practice in pressure situations, with serving and serve-receive, I feel like tonight, we did really well showing that even though we were down, we’re very comfortable now figuring out how we’re going to proceed and how we’re going to win.”
Morgan honored its four seniors – Alyssa Robinson, Sydney Chomicz, Alex Church and Amanda LaRiviere – in a nice pregame ceremony. The Huskies fell behind early in all three sets before spirited rallies in sets one and three gave them a chance for an upset.
“It was close,” Morgan coach Paige Trusty said. “We played together and we fought as much as we could. We should have put the pieces together a little bit earlier than we did, that’s why the third game we were so close.”
Morgan, which fell to 7-11, needs a win in its final two games (Coginchaug and Cromwell) to qualify for the state tournament.
“We’ve had some key people out with injuries so its been hard to really get in a groove,” Trusty added.
For Hale Ray, closing out the third set in championship fashion is something Miner hopes to see again.
“I was happy with that,” Miner said. “The fact that we were down in the third set and we were in a non-friendly environment. We came back and kind of pushed out the noise and were able to focus because that’s only going to prepare us for the postseason when the gyms are fuller and louder and the pressure is on. That was good for us.”