WOODBRIDGE – Amity junior Abigail Harbinson has been itching to get back on the court. Missing three matches with an ankle injury, Harbinson marked her return in impressive fashion.
Spreading around 21 kills, Harbinson led the third-seeded Spartans to a 25-15, 22-25, 25-13, 25-21 Southern Connecticut Conference quarterfinal victory over sixth-seeded East Haven at Paul Mengold Gymnasium at Amity High Monday evening.
With the victory, Amity (15-3) will travel to take on second-seeded Guilford 6 p.m. Thursday evening in the SCC semifinals. The Indians topped Branford 3-0 in another quarterfinal match.
“It was her first game back after missing three and she did not miss a beat,” Amity coach Seth Davis said of Harbinson. “She came back and she played like she is supposed to.”
Harbinson, who also added 14 service points, five aces, four digs, and four blocks, also hurt the Yellowjackets with her mix of blistering kills and soft dinks. The junior was particularly effective in the fourth game, giving the Spartans a 5-4 lead with a dink, and an 11-6 advantage with three consecutive aces.
After East Haven evened the game at 15, Harbinson used a kill to give Amity the lead, then used a kill and a dink in consecutive possessions for a 20-18 Amity advantage.
“It is important to mix in some off speed balls,” Harbinson said. “It is important to be a versatile hitter. They have a great defense and adapted, so I had to mix it up.”
The Yellowjackets gave Amity all it could handle after being swept in straight sets in both matches during the regular season. After Amity closed the first game on a 13-4 run to win the opening game, East Haven trailed early in the second game, but rallied to post the victory.
Kylie Schlottman gave East Haven a 15-13 advantage, and Jessica Stettinger’s kill evened the game at 16. Trailing by three points, East Haven rallied to take the lead for good at 23-22 on a dink by Diana Kalman.
“They are a tough team,” East Haven coach Craig Brown said of Amity. “In my opinion, they have the best player (Harbinson) in the conference. They get the ball to her and they win points.”
The Spartans never trailed in the third game, taking a 10-6 lead on a kill by Danielle Nordyk, and a 16-10 advantage on a kill by Harbinson. An ace by Nordyk and a kill by Harbinson pushed the lead to 20-11, before an ace by Brooke Matyasovsky and a kill by Harbinson put Amity closed to a third game win with a 24-13 lead.
“A lot of times we get down on ourselves and defeat ourselves,” Davis said. “It is important to keep the energy up. We made a few good plays and turned it around.”
Nordyk and Caroline Fertman each had six kills, Matyasovsky had 11 service points and seven digs, and Nordyk added 10 service points in the win for Amity. Jaiden Williams ran the Amity offense with 31 assists.
“We came in here on a mission to push and fight our way to the SCC finals,” Brown said. “It did not work out that way. This is a good momentum builder for us going forward as an M school playing against a LL school like that.”