— Bill Bloxsom (@blox354) October 3, 2019
SHELTON — Guilford brought a perfect 8-0 record into its match with Shelton on Wednesday night. Shelton was 7-1, with its only loss at the hands of then unbeaten Cheshire.
By the way, Guilford had handed Cheshire its only loss by a 3-0 margin only one night earlier.
Guilford made it two consecutive victories over top SCC clubs by earning a 3-0 (25-17, 25-20, 27-25) victory.
“Always one of our strengths has been keeping the ball in the air,” Guilford coach Laura Anastasio said about her stout defense. “Juliet Young makes Matrix-like plays from her libero position. When her teammates see that, they go after it the same way and get the ball to our front row.”
The front row is where you find Emma Appleman, who led the way with 18 kills to go with 12 digs.
“We really wanted to carry over the same intensity that we played against Cheshire,” Appleman said. “They are a very good team and so is Shelton…We really wanted to continue being aggressive and staying together.”
Guilford setter Eva Ott Hill and her 27 assists was the conductor, but there were plenty of Indians looking to jump on this winning train.
Sabrina Zuniga was the perfect sidekick for Appleman, especially in the 25-17 first-set win that saw the duo match spike for unreturnable spike.
“Honestly, we have two superstars,” Anastasio said. “Don’t know other teams, but the way they play make the other four girls on the court play better.”
Guilford goes eight deep, with Emily Brouder, Carson Halbower, Megan McNamara and Olivia Lawlor taking turns contributing where needed.
Shelton coach LeAnne Bianchine said, “You can’t get in a hole against a tough team and we gave them points off our serve. That said, Guilford is a very good team. I like the way we still had a push in us and won some big rallies, especially in the third game.”
Libero Sara DeMarco led the Gaelettes with 18 digs, and Bianchine thought there were more.
“I tell anybody that will listen that Sara owns the volleyball floor, she gets everything,” Bianchine said. “Jess Jayakar was good all over the court. We moved Liz (Casinelli) to the right side to change things up and she played well. Kelsey (Radzion) and Reem (Abdel-Hack) did a good job keeping the ball alive.”
The game was played in sauna-like conditions. The two squads were unrelenting, however, and there were more draining-rallies in the third set than in the hard-fought first two games.
“We average 12 or 13 aces a game,” Anastasio said. “Tonight we had one. Shelton’s court coverage was great.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
The obvious choice is Emma Appleman, but it was the not-on-my-watch defensive stance by Guilford libero Juliet Young that made the match so much more difficult for Shelton.
“It was great to have the football team here to support us,” Shelton coach LeAnne Bianchine said. “But the more they yelled at their servers the better they served. At the same time, we were having trouble getting our serve in (12 off the mark). I was going to call time out and go tell them to yell at our servers. Maybe that would have helped us.”