By David Borges
@DaveBorges on Twitter
NORTH HAVEN >> The beat goes on for the Cheshire girls volleyball team.
The Rams kept their undefeated season intact on Friday by beating Mercy 3-0 in the Southern Connecticut Conference championship match at North Haven High.
Despite the final score, it wasn’t easy. The Tigers kept neck and neck with Cheshire for much of the first two games before succumbing, then jumped out to a big lead in the third game. But the Rams proved too tough and rallied to win that one, too, and complete a 25-19, 25-20, 25-21 sweep. It’s the third straight title for Cheshire and 10th overall.
“We had to fight for it,” said junior Jill Howard, who was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. “We were on our game tonight, but it didn’t come easy.” Read more here
No. 9 Sheehan 3, No. 4 Hand 1 (25-10, 15-25, 25-10, 25-15)
No. 4 Shelton 3, No. 13 Hamden 0 (25-18, 26-24, 25-14)
No. 5 Branford 3, No. 12 West Haven 0 (25-20, 25-19, 25-15)
No. 6 Foran 3,No. 11 Guilford 0 (See below)
No. 7 Lyman Hall 3, No. 10 Law 1 (24-26, 25-15, 27-25, 25-15)
Monday, at higher seeds, times TBA
No. 1 Cheshire 3, No. 9 Sheehan 0 (25-8, 25-17, 25-8)
No. 2 Mercy 3, No. 7 Lyman Hall 1 (25-20, 25-16, 21-25, 25-21)
No. 3 Amity 3, No. 6 Foran 2 (25-20, 21-25, 23-25, 25-21, 15-9)
No. 5 Branford 3, No. 4 Shelton 0 (25-19, 25-20, 25-19)
No. 1 Cheshire 3, No. 5 Branford 1 (23-25, 25-7, 25-19, 25-17)
No. 2 Mercy 3, No. 3 Amity (27-25, 25-23, 25-23)
No. 1 Cheshire 3, No. 2 Mercy 0 (25-19, 25-20, 25-21)
SOUTHERN CONNECTICUT CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP BREAKDOWN
HOW WE GOT HERE
No. 1 Cheshire (22-0): Cheshire ran through its regular-season schedule, has not lost to an SCC team since an Oct. 15, 2012, loss to Amity and collected 16 regular-season sweeps this year. After a first-round bye, the Rams swept No. 9 Sheehan (25-8, 25-17, 25-8) and topped No. 5 Branford 3-1 (23-25, 25-7, 25-19, 25-17).
No. 2 Mercy (18-2): Mercy took care of its SCC Quinnipiac schedule, going 6-0 and winning the division. Seven of the Tigers’ last eight wins to close the regular season were all sweeps. After a first-round bye, Mercy charged into the SCC tournament with a 3-1 (25-20, 25-16, 21-25, 25-21) victory over Lyman Hall in the quarterfinals. The Tigers topped last season’s defending SCC co-champion Amity 3-0 (27-25, 25-23, 25-23) in a nail-biter to advance to the title game.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Mercy’s only two losses this season were to Cheshire, both sweeps. Cheshire has been strong in all aspects of the game, with solid hitting, good serving and a killer instinct they lacked at times last season. Sarah Rodgers, Maria Buzzelli and Jill Haberli have all been major components in the Rams’ undefeated season.
Meanwhile, Mercy comes in with a chip on its shoulder after those two losses. Jessica Hoops, Mackenzie Dugan, Abigail Nagy and Morgan Cahill have been strong for the Tigers, and will need to play near-perfect volleyball for Mercy to have a chance.
DID YOU KNOW?
This is the third time Mercy has played Cheshire in the SCC championship (1996, ’98), and just like in this season, the Tigers are 0-2. … The last two times Cheshire won the SCC championship were both sweeps. Cheshire topped Guilford in 2011 and Sacred Heart Academy in 2008. However, in 2009, after dropping the second set to Law, the Rams eventually lost 3-2.
AND THE WINNER IS…
Cheshire 3-1: The Rams just have too much fire power to imagine them losing. Mercy may come out with a lot of energy and capture the first game. However, from there Cheshire should settle down and take control as the match goes on. Cheshire didn’t get the chance to really win the conference last season, as the final was cancelled due to inclement weather. The Rams could have a chip on their shoulders just as big as the one Mercy could have.
Foran tops Guilford, advances
By Mike Madera
MILFORD — Having already played Guilford twice in the regular season, the Foran volleyball was well aware of what to expect. The Lions made sure there were no fifth-game decisions as was the case the last time the two teams met.
Behind the ball movement of Bryzy Gonski, the hitting of Fallon Bevino and the defense of Dani Kemp, the sixth-seeded Lions defeated No. 11 Guilford 25-20, 25-14 and 26-24 in the opening round of the Southern Connecticut Conference tournament at Foran High Saturday afternoon.
With the win, Foran advances to the quarterfinals, where the Lions will play at No. 3 Amity Monday at 5:30 p.m.
“I thought we played well,” Foran coach Julie Johnson said. “We moved the ball around well. Bryzy Gonski did such a good job moving the ball around so everyone got the opportunity to get their swings in.”
Bevino came up big in key spots of the match, finishing with 13 kills, many of which helped keep the Lions in front. Read more here
Mercy hoping to take SCCs
After Mercy’s 3-0 victory over North Haven on Oct. 16, Tigers coach Sarah Kelley wanted her players to get familiar with
the Indians’ gym, which will host this season’s Southern Connecticut Conference final on Nov. 1.
“I told them, ‘Take a good look around, feel comfortable in this gym, because we’re going to be here on Nov. 1 for the final,’” Kelley said.
The SCC tournament begins Saturday and, if Kelley’s prediction is correct, it will end a long string of disappointing SCC tournament finishes for Mercy. The 14-2 Quinnipiac Division champion has never won the tournament title and is 2-5 in the semifinal round.
Last season, Mercy seemed poised to reach the conference final, but a lackluster performance in a 3-1 semifinal defeat to Amity dashed those hopes. Kelley said her team has not forgotten about that loss.