WOODBURY — After a close, opening-game loss to No. 2 Nonnewaug at Woodbury Middle School Friday evening, No. 11 Waterford’s volleyball team jumped on big opening leads in the next three games on their way to a 3-1 (25-27; 25-19; 25-15; 25-18) Class M girls volleyball quarterfinal win.
“Both teams were feeling each other out in the opening game,” Waterford coach Matt Maynard. “It was long runs and big stops.”
What they learned was that each side had a had a go-to player good for huge kills when needed.
By the middle of a Game One’s back-and-forth trip to a 14-14 tie, Waterford’s Ryleigh Gonya (16 kills) was a familiar figure busting the Lancers into the lead. Nonnewaug’s Abby Scheurich (12 kills, 11 aces, 19 digs) was just as familiar, locking the score again at 16-16.
When a Nonnewaug unforced error pulled the Lancers to a final 25-25 tie, Scheurich fired a steaming back-row kill for the Chiefs’ advantage point. Emily Wisniewski finished it off with an ace.
But the Lancers stayed busy at the break.
“We reminded ourselves that Waterford hasn’t gone to the semis since winning the championship in 2015,” Gonya said. “This year, we knew how far we could go.”
Waterford’s trip back to the semis began with a 6-0 opening string in Game Two, ended by a Scheurich kill.
“When we didn’t put pressure on their defense, they executed very well,” said Coach Marty Malaspina, guiding his Chiefs to a Berkshire League championship and their second straight quarterfinal.
Nonnewaug fought back. Scheurich served the next eight points, including four aces and a great save and kill by Samantha Thompson (12 kills, 9 digs).
But unforced errors and more Waterford weapons began to tell on the Chiefs. Rachel Miller (9 kills) and Angea Colonis (9 aces) had kills on the way to a 17-13 Lancer lead.
When a back-row kill by Nonnewaug’s Wisniewski pulled the Chiefs back to 20-19, Gonya had the answer again — a kill and four final service points featuring an ace, a block by Liliana Kramer, a drop-in by Sabrina Kobyluck (28 assists) and a final kill by Miller.
The Lancer weapons on display weren’t about to go away.
Waterford opened up Game Three with a 9-1 lead and cake-walked to a 2-1 game advantage featuring five kills by Miller, including the final point.
Waterford led Game Four 13-2 before Nonnewaug’s Thompson ended the string. Gonya slammed five kills in the final stretch, then served an ace for the final point.
The Lancers meet No. 15 Haddam-Killingworth in the semifinals next Tuesday at a time and place to be decided.