TORRINGTON — Torrington girls volleyball evened its record at 5-5 with a hard-fought 3-1 win over Crosby (1-6) Thursday evening at Torrington High School.
The game scores were as follows: 25-16; 25-15; 26-28; 25-12.
The Bulldogs came out smiling after a gritty third-game win.
“They played well,” said veteran coach Stefanie Nicholas.
The Red Raiders, in a second-year rebuilding mode after a Class M state finals appearance three years ago, were happy with their progress in its most important aspect — their attitude.
“It’s a big difference from last year,” said setter Nicole Toimil (14 assists).
“We decided to grab ourselves and get close to each other with all our goofiness,” said Sydney Bermas (6 kills).
“It’s been a really exciting year,” said Libero Mariah Doyle. “We feel like a family this year.”
Sam Zordan, in her first year as head coach after serving as an assistant coach last year, echoes the feeling: “They’re more of a team this year.”
But Zordan, whose team numbers are still good, had other things to work on in the rebuilding process Thursday.
“We called up some of our JVs and worked them in to see how the combinations worked,” Zordan said. “Sometimes it came out well; other times it didn’t.”
Even with the first unit in, against a feisty group of Bulldogs, the observable talent levels ebbed and flowed.
“They started out great and ended great, but they fought through the whole time,” Zordan said.
So, in the first game, an ace by premier Crosby server Marissa White (10 aces) brought the score to 9-9 in a game that stamped the match as a struggle, regardless of records.
But then Torrington’s Alexis Baranauskas (8 kills) slammed home a great set by Toimil and the Raiders were off on their first talent show of the night.
Mikayla Cappabianca killed another great Toimil set; Doyle served a pair of aces; Alyssa Sabia followed with one more pair of aces; and Torrington rolled to a 25-16 win.
The second-game pattern was similar — close (13-13) until another Baranauskas kill ignited the team to three straight aces by Emma Dasilva-Martinez and a second win, 25-15.
Game 3, the most exciting of the match, spotlighted the grit on both sides. The Bulldogs pulled away from a 13-13 tie on a series of Raider errors to a 20-15 lead.
Torrington came all the way back to 21-21 on an Ashley Gutierrez ace, then 22-22 and successive ties up to 26-26.
“They didn’t give up,” said Coach Zordan in a statement applying to both teams.
Finally, a Torrington error and a Samantha Martinez kill to the back corner earned Crosby the win.
The setback refueled Torrington’s jets, starting with a 7-1 lead in Game 4 and nine straight service points by Red Raider Kailee Stanton, including four aces and kills by Doyle (from the back row) and Toimil.
“Game 4 was a nightmare,” said Coach Nicholas after the 25-12 final.