AVON >> About a month ago Farmington swept RHAM and knocked the Sachems from the top spot in the girls volleyball coaches poll.
It has been RHAM’s only loss of the season, while the Indians finished the regular season undefeated. The Indians have be No. 1 ever since.
But what a difference a month makes.
On Saturday at Avon High School, second-seeded RHAM not only handed Farmington its first set losses of the season, but it’s first match loss with a sweep — 25-15, 25-23, 28-26 — to claim the Central Connecticut Conference title for the third time in team history.
“This is the time that you’re learning the things that maybe you didn’t know a month ago,” RHAM coach Tim Guernsey said.
Farmington has still not won a tournament title in four finals appearances.
“We became closer after that [loss to Farmington,” RHAM junior Anna Berry said. “We realized maybe we weren’t as good as we thought. It was kind of like, take it down a notch, refocus and go after it once more.”
Berry had 10 kills and six blocks. Alana Hruska led the match with 20 kills and seven blocks. Setter Allie Welsh dished out 39 assists.
The Sachems improved their game throughout in the last month, but the non-physical aspect is what won them this match.
“I don’t know if we were as mentally tough a month ago as we are now,” Guernsey said. “I felt like the kids tonight were very, very, very composed.”
That composure was tested a few times, but was handled flawlessly each time.
After dominating the first set aided by a slow Farmington start, RHAM scored the first eight points of the second set and held a 13-4 lead. But an 11-3 run by the Indians got them right back in contention. Farmington finally broke even when a Mary Schoenherr tip a shot down the right line to tied it at 22-22.
“We got off to a slow start,” Farmington coach Laura Arena said. “Slower than I wanted us to. We started to recover, but they clearly had a lot of the momentum offensively.”
Guernsey called a timeout, refocused his team and they finished the second set off.
“I never felt when I looked out that there was a deer in headlights,” Guernsey said. “I just felt like we kept plugging away, we kept working hard even when they went up.”
Set three saw Farmington take an early 3-0 lead, but then RHAM scored seven straight to assert themselves once again. But Farmington hung around and didn’t let its deficit grow to more than four.
As the set wore on RHAM made a couple errors that let the Indians back in and eventually take the lead. Eric Raus, who led Farmington with 14 kills, put one down giving the Indians a 20-17 lead.
But that composure again, the Sachems didn’t waver.
“We just kept repeating, ‘Go for everything, sell your body out and we needed to make sure that we still came together even if we lost the point,'” RHAM senior libero Lauren Delissio said.
Delissio had 23 digs for the Sachems.
They faced two set points, but didn’t give in before finally taking the third set and the championship back to Hebron.