MILFORD — The last time Jonathan Law and Shelton battled on the volleyball court was a little less than a month ago and Shelton won in resounding fashion. Early in Monday’s rematch, one would have thought there was more of the same coming.
After Shelton won the opening game in resounding fashion, Law flicked the switch and posted victories in the final three games to top the Gaels 3-1 in a Southern Connecticut Conference Division A contest at Jonathan Law in Milford.
Law improved to 7-2 with the 20-25, 25-14, 25-18, 25-15 victory. Shelton fell to 5-3.
“We do it every once in a while where we are doing nothing and just sitting back,” Law coach Stacy Loch said. “Then the switch flips and we turn it on. We had a discussion about communication and working together and moving. We then played the way we are supposed to play.”
Law turned things around quickly in the second game, jumping out to a 9-3 lead and never looked back. The Gaels were hurt in the second game by a lack of communication as several unforced errors led to Law points.
“When we played in Shelton the first time, it felt like we did not want to be there,” Loch said of playing with no fans. “It felt weird. We talked and knew we could not feel like that. We had to motivate ourselves. We have to motivate our teammates and pick each other up. That is what we did tonight.”
With Law leading 18-10, a kill by Elma Radoncic increased the lead to nine points, before another kill by Avery Fitzgerald got Law within striking distance of a game two victory. When Alexis Neider recorded a kill, Law took home the second game by 11 points and evened the match at one apiece.
“The first time we played Shelton we had a tough loss as we lost in three,” Law’s Madilyn Lula said after finishing with 15 kills, four aces, and three digs. “I think it was the intimidation factor. We were focused on them when we really need to focus on our game. We knew if we play to our potential, we could win. We did that tonight.”
Law did not let up in the third game. The Eagles jumped out to a 5-1 lead on an ace by Grace Kantor. Shelton drew even on a kill by Julia Krijgsman and got within one at 8-7 on another kill by Krijgsman, but Law started to pull away, going on a 16-9 run to end the third game.
A kill by Neider started the run, before a kill by Lula gave Law a 15-10 advantage. When Shelton had communication issues in the third game, Law extended the lead to 17-12, before another kill by Lula helped extend the margin to six points.
“It is different with no fans here,” Lula said. “We just came together as a team. We are consistently cheering each other on at each level. We don’t let the energy get down. The team is coming together now. The more games we play, I feel the stronger we get together.”
Shelton fought back and got within three points on two occasions on kills by Krijgsman and Isabella Giliotti, but it was not enough as two Shelton errors gave Law the final two points of the third game.
“We could not pass today,” Shelton coach LeAnne Bianchine said. “Law did a great job on defense. They are scrappy and they did not give us anything. We had an off day, but you have to give Law credit. Our passing was bad and we could not get more than a few serves in a row. You can’t give up points to a hard-working team like Law.”
Shelton did not go away quietly as the fourth and final game began even at seven, before a block by Law’s Fitzgerald had the home team up by two.
Law started to get the feeling it would come away with a victory on a pair of aces by Laura Ellison, before a kill by Kantor had Law up 18-13.
A kill by Fitzgerald increased the margin to 21-15, before two errors by Shelton had Law within striking distance. When Law’s Lula hit consecutive aces, Law had rallied to defeat Shelton in four games.
Kantor ran the Law offense with 20 assists, while Jessica Jayakar led Shelton with 11 kills, four aces, and nine digs. Krijgsman added five kills and 12 digs for the Gaels.