SHELTON — The Shelton volleyball team captured a 28-26 decision in the fourth set to close out a 3-1 (25-17, 25-20, 21-25, 28-26) victory over Cheshire in the Vincent J. Murray Gymnasium on Thursday night.
“We worked so hard for this,” Shelton coach LeAnne Bianchine said. “We worked in practice on covering and we did it so well. We battled all the way. They matched us in the last two games, and I’m so proud of my players.”
Shelton (10-2, 8-2 SCC) won the first two sets behind a strong service game, which made it tough for Cheshire (9-2, 8-2 SCC) to go on the attack.
“You can’t play a team like Shelton and not put the ball on the floor,” said Cheshire coach Sue Barone. “You have to pressure their defense and make them make the difficult pass. If not, it is to their advantage. In game four we started to hit the ball at them. I liked the way we responded down 2-0 and pushed them. Passing errors cost us, but we will learn from this.”
Shelton took game one with Sara DeMarco (18 digs, 2 aces) serving up six winners in a set dominated by side outs. Demarco, and her counterpart at libero Ariana Perlini, were outstanding. Four of the Gaelettes’ five hitters hammered home spikes in the 25-17 win.
Shelton received strong play at the net from a host of players: Jess Jayakar (14 kills), Reem Abdel-Hack (11 kills), Elizabeth Casinelli (9 kills), Clarissa Pierre (7 kills) and Kelsey Radzion (6 kills).
Casinelli was at her most versatile in the second set, when she had three kills, a block, a service ace, and a pair of net saves. Natalia Wilson and Sarah Ovesny each had two digs during the 25-20 triumph.
Cheshire’s come back was paced by Lindsey Abramson (9 kills 14 digs), Emma Watkinson (27 assists, 6 kills, 6 digs) and Ariana Perlini (25 digs, 2 aces).
Abramson dealt a pair of aces to get her team to game-point in game three. Jenna Stickney had five service winners to help rally the Rams’ back from a 5-0 deficit that came off the serve of Jess Foss (35 assists).
Game four showed each team at its best. It took two complete service rotations (14-11 Shelton then 26-25 Cheshire),before Foss served out the match.
With three weeks remaining, the SCC is top heavy in talent with six teams assured postseason berths. If 12 teams qualify for the first round on Nov. 2, four team will have byes to the quarterfinal round on Nov. 5. If 13 qualify; three get byes. Eleven teams had winning records heading into Wednesday matches.
Cheshire will take part in the Girls Volleyball Fall Brawl at RHAM in Hebron on Saturday.
Shelton will step outside conference play only once down the stretch, when it plays host to defending FCIAC champion Trumbull on Saturday at 11:30 a.m.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH
Shelton’s Jess Jayakar accounted for 14 kills and 7 digs, as the Gaels won on Pink Night.
“We lost our first match with them at their house,” Shelton coach LeAnne Bianchine said. “We didn’t want them to win in our house. This was our Pink Game (Breast Cancer Awareness) and this was a big deal to play a team like Cheshire on a night that is so special to my team.”
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SHELTON 3, CHESHIRE 1
CHESHIRE 17 20 25 26—1
SHELTON 25 25 22 28—3
Cheshire: Lindsey Abramson 9 kills 14 digs; Emma Watkinson 27 assists, 6 kills, 6 digs; Ariana Perlini 25 digs, 2 aces; Julia Bartiet 11 kills, 3 digs. Shelton: Sara DeMarco 18 digs, 3 aces Elizabeth Casinelli 9 kills, 3 blocks, 2 aces; Jess Jayakar 14 kills, 7 digs; Jess Foss 35 assists; Reem Abdel-Hack 11 kills, 7 blocks; Natalia Wilson 7 digs, Kelsey Radzion 6 kills, Clarissa Pierre 7 kills, 2 blocks; Sarah Ovesny 8 digs. Records: Cheshire (9-2); Shelton (10-2)