CANTON >> Torrington’s volleyball team fired from all angles in a nearly perfect 3-0 (25-19, 25-11, 25-20) Class M semifinal win against neighboring Northwestern Tuesday evening at Canton High School.
“We just kept coming and coming and coming at them,” said Red Raider coach Christine Gamari.
“That’s the best team we’ve seen by far,” said Northwestern coach Jon Hurlock, whose Highlanders (21-3) powered to the Berkshire League and BL Tournament championships and a No. 4 Class M ranking before meeting their match in the No. 1 Raiders (25-1), the NVL’s regular season and tournament champion.
The Highlanders feature strong hitters in Molly Porch (5 kills, 1 dig, 2 aces) and Molly Clarke (5 kills,2 digs) and a great defensive force at the net in Megan McGrath (4 blocks).
Torrington brings it from almost everyone.
“You can only defend them so many times,” said Coach Hurlock. “You wear out.”
That happened in Games One and Three. Game Two was Torrington running all their cylinders at once.
“They played very well the whole (match); we played well in spurts,” Hurlock said.
Northwestern built a 5-2 lead in Game One before Torrington got it fully in gear.
The kick-start came from one of their shortest hitters, 5-foot-6 Carissa Carbone (8 kills, 2 digs) with three huge kills on the way to an 8-6 Torrington lead.
“I use my height to my advantage,” Carbone grinned. “They see me and think I’ll either tip it over or send it high to the back row.”
It’s a preview of what’s to come from the whole team. If the smallest Raider has a cannon, what’s coming from the rest of the team?
“Plenty,” was Torrington’s answer.
Jolie Fox (7 kills, 2 blocks), the biggest hitter on the team, started with a few taps, a kill and a block mid-game.
Lauren Gaghan served six straight points, including an ace.
When Ali Dubois (1 assist, 5 digs, 2 aces) took over for two aces, the Torrington lead was 24-14.
Credit Highlander Victoria Grantmeyer for four straight points at Northwestern’s service line, including two aces, but the Torrington point was made.
“We didn’t play our best, but Torrington had a lot to do with that,” said Hurlock.
Game Two was all Raiders after a spurt by Northwestern closed an early Torrington lead to 9-6.
Northwestern prides itself on its serving.
“They serve, we pass,” said Coach Gamari, crediting libero Candyce Jewett with fielding most of Northwestern’s booming serves and turning them into passes to setter Jayleen Colon (17 assists, 3 kills, 2 aces).
Northwestern’s ship leaked badly in Torrington’s Game Two rout (25-11), but they came back strong in Game Three, holding the lead through 9-8, losing it, then gaining it back through 14-13.
From there, the Red Raiders “kept coming and coming” once again. “You can only defend them so many times.”
Torrington plays for the Class M championship Saturday at East Haven against Seymour, last year’s Class S runner-up. The No. 3 Wildcats (23-2) beat No. 7 Granby 3-1 in Tuesday’s other semifinal.
Both of Seymour’s season losses came from Torrington, in the regular season and for the NVL Tournament championship.
No. 1 Torrington 3, No. 4 Northwestern 0
(25-19, 25-11, 25-20)
At Canton High School
Highlights: NW – Molly Porch 5 kills, 1 dig, 2 aces; Molly Clarke 5 kills, 2 digs; Megan McGrath 4 blocks. T – Carissa Carbone 9 kills 2 digs; Jolie Fox 7 kills, 2 blocks; Ali Dubois 1 assist, 5 digs, 2 aces; Jayleen Colon 17 assists, 3 kills, 2 aces; Candyce Jewett 4 digs, 4 aces.
Records: Northwestern 21-3; Torrington 25-1.