BRANFORD — It hasn’t been the perfect season because of the pandemic, but on the court, so far Guilford has been perfect.
Six matches. Six 3-0 scores.
Guilford made Branford its latest victim, rolling to another 3-0 (25-6, 25-13, 25-14) victory Wednesday night at Branford High School.
“The feeling of being on the court even with no one here is a sense of normalcy and being able to play this year has motivated us,” Guilford hitter Emily Brouder said. “We’ve been working so hard after getting to the state championship last year.”
And it showed Wednesday night as Guilford trailed just once in the entire match and that was just 2-1 in the second game. Meanwhile, Guilford scored 17 of the final 18 points in the opening game of the night to take a quick 1-0 lead.
After trailing in the second game, Guilford went on a roll towards the end of it, scoring nine of the final 12 points. The game ended when Branford’s Paige Kelly saw her serve go out of bounds down the right side.
Guilford ran out to a big lead in the third game, 19-6, but the host Hornets went on a run to cut it to 19-9, on an ace by Peyton Giordano.
“We didn’t adjust in the way they were attacking us,” Branford’s Mia Parise said. “We’d come back a little bit, but sometimes it got into our heads a little bit.”
However, Guilford scored the final three points of the match and a kill attempt by Kelly went into the net to end the game and the match in addition to keeping the streak of games won alive at 18 in six matches.
“We knew going in we’d have another successful year,” Guilford coach Laura Anastasio. “Even with no climax at the end of the season with a state championship, they are playing hard. I don’t have to tell them to play hard. They do it themselves and are just having fun.”
“We have things we’re working on and need to stop making errors, Branford coach Giovanni Meier said. “They played a great game and are a solid team.”
For Appleman, an All-Stater who will play the College of Charleston next year, there’s no looking at what could have been after Guilford lost in the CIAC Class L final a year ago but won’t get a chance with no state tournament due to Covid-19.
“It was disappointing at first, but I don’t like to think about what we’re missing,” Appleman said. “I like to thing about what we’re getting out of this season. We worked hard in the offseason and a lot of the seniors are really hungry to win and that’s enabled us to succeed as we have.”
For Branford (1-1), the Hornets have had to get used to playing indoors again. Up until a couple weeks ago, Branford was planning on playing its schedule outdoors due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but that changed after the Hornets were outdoors for the entire preseason.
“We’re happy to be able to play indoors,” Michaels said. “We considered the outdoors to be preseason. We at least have our JV team to make some noise, so it doesn’t feel much different in the middle of the game, but the players are missing their parents in the audience.”
Ana Lafogg said it has been an adjustment for Branford after coming indoors.
“At first we anticipated playing outdoors all season,” she said. “The feel for the ground is very different. We only had a couple practices before our first game to get a feel for the gym. Either way, we were ready to play, indoors or outdoors.”
Appleman led Guilford in kills in the match with 11, while Brouder had 10. Olivia Ciocca had 25 assists from the setter spot.