Newtown High School boys volleyball coach Sandy Doski received a perfect gift for her 27th wedding anniversary Friday night.
The Nighthawks gave their coach plenty to cheer about, winning their second straight SWC championship and keeping their perfect season going in the process.
Top-seeded Newtown swept another opponent, this time in the championship match, defeating visiting Joel Barlow 3-0 for another SWC title.
Ardi Kodzodziku, who was selected as the MVP, recorded 15 kills, 12 digs, seven service points and two aces to help power Newtown to a 25-22, 25-11, 25-14 victory.
“It feels amazing, because not only are we the newest program to do this twice. We all work so hard,” Kodzodziku said. “It was a well-fought battle to get here and we’re all super happy to end the tournament this way.”
Robbie Morrill, also a senior, posted 11 kills, 10 service points and seven digs, while senior Eric Moore tallied 14 digs and six service point for the 22-0 Nighthawks. Senior Rob DiSibio added eight kills and five blocks in the winning effort.
DiSibio immediately noticed the teamwork the squad exhibited upon joining the team this spring.
“This is my first year playing, and for me to be able to come in this year as a senior with these guys proves that the chemistry is something special,” DiSibio said.
Junior James Belden had nine digs, seven service points and two aces, while junior Max Wrage added 20 assists, six digs and six service points for Newtown, which kept its momentum for the majority of the match.
“We’re only a five-year program, so to win back-to-back SWC titles — we’re making history here with boys volleyball,” Doski said. “We kept the momentum with our serving, hitting and passing. They know when to hit the ball, when to tip. They know every time it doesn’t have to be a hard kill. This was some anniversary gift for me.”
Barlow (17-5) received 12 kills from senior co-captain Thomas Lucido and 22 assists, eight digs and two blocks from senior co-captain Sam Bartro.
“For us, especially this year with a really young group, predominantly sophomores, and underclassmen and with our senior captain going down a couple of weeks back, I was very proud of this group being here and competing in the manner that they did regardless of the result,” Joel Barlow coach Chris Lovelett said.
Finn McCaffrey, also one of Barlow’s captains, was the key player that got injured in one of the team’s regular-season matches against Newtown. Three of Barlow’s five losses came against Newtown, which also beat them in the finals of the 2018 SWC Tournament.
Trailing 16-10 in the opening set, Barlow closed to within 22-20 on Lucido’s kill. Newtown closed out the first game behind strong serving from Wrage. DiSibio helped pace the home team with solid play at the net in the first set.
In the second set, kills by DiSibio and Moore helped the Nighthawks seize a 9-3 advantage. An ace by Kodzodziku made it 12-4 and later in the game, consecutive aces from Morrill put the home team on top, 20-10.
The third and final game saw Newtown lead throughout en route to claiming its second consecutive conference crown.
“Our goal is to not only win this, but go farther in states,” Kodzodziku said. “This is the hardest we’ve fought all year in terms of competition, so it feels nice.”
“From Day 1 that was their goal, to win SWCs, and they worked hard all season long to make that come to be today,” Doski said. “Our seniors were really big factors in this.”
Said Lovelett: “Not only are they (Newtown) a talented group who play with a great tempo, they’re in control, they’re experienced, they’re good kids and I wish them nothing but congratulations.”
Newtown will compete in the Class L tournament, where it is seeded second and has received a first-round bye. The Nighthawks advanced to the semifinals in 2018.
“We have been working toward winning the SWC and the state title,” DiSibio said. “Those are our main goals.”
Barlow plays in the Class M tournament and is seeded third.
“I’m really proud of how well we’ve played all season,” said Lucido, who along with sophomore Logan Paradise helped pace the team. “Newtown is a really tough team to play. They’re experienced and they do a great job of staying composed.”