TORRINGTON >> With the NVL’s Iron Division title firmly in its grip, Torrington girls volleyball (17-1) never gave Wolcott (8-9) a chance in a 3-0 (25-7, 25-8, 25-12) sweep at Torrington High School Monday evening.
The Red Raiders approach significant hurdles — a rematch with the only team to beat them this season (Granby Memorial) Thursday; the start of the NVL Tournament Saturday (Torrington will be the No. 1 seed); and the Class L Tournament the following week.
Monday’s game offered a review of the traits in Torrington’s success so far and a look at preparations for more.
Unlike many successful volleyball teams, including the Eagles, (two players well over six feet tall), the Raiders have no real size standouts. Instead, they’re all pure athletes, capable of striking from any formation on the floor.
Monday, Carissa Carbone (9 kills); Jolie Fox (8 kills); Lauren Gaghan (7 kills); and Nina Lestrud (5 kills) combined for 29 kills. Fox and Lestrud approach 5-10; the others are significantly shorter.
Setters are key to every volleyball team’s power. On some teams, it’s hard to be certain who that is.
There’s no mistaking Torrington senior Jayleen Colon. With 25 assists Monday, Colon controlled almost every Raider second hit because her players know where she is and get it to her.
And they almost always get a second hit.
“Sometimes the other team gets defeated because they get good swings and the ball keeps coming back,” said Torrington Coach Christine Gamari.
Torrington sprinkled amazing digs into every game Monday, including one spectacular series leaving two girls momentarily down on the court while the other Raiders played around them.
“We played pretty good D tonight,” smiled Gamari.
If the Eagles couldn’t beat them, the Raiders consistently refused to beat themselves. Unforced errors — bad serves, miss-hits, poor passes — are part of volleyball. Some great defensive teams sit back and wait for the other team to stumble.
Even in Monday’s rout, Gamari counted 15 unforced errors. They’ve had games with zero.
“We’d be hard to beat if we played completely clean volleyball,” she understated.
Monday, the Raiders played very close to it, with long service runs, great passes and perfect sets.
But there’s always more to work on.
When Granby (14-2), from the NCCC, beat the Raiders 3-2 a month ago, Torrington led 14-10 in the final game. The Bears came back for the win.
“We’ve been working on always pushing forward,” said Gamari. “We’ve improved our aggressiveness.”
The Eagles felt that in every point every game on Monday.
Even if that carries Torrington through the league championship to the NVL title, the Class L tournament looms with last year’s bitter after-taste of a second-round departure as the No. 3 seed.
“We don’t like to look too far ahead, but we’ve been practicing with our best servers against our best receivers. (Assistant coach Kyle Phelan) and I have been playing as middle and outside hitters on the scout team,” Gamari said.
Watertown, 3-13, experiences the Raider preparation at Torrington’s Senior Night Wednesday.
Wolcott hosts 14-3 Woodland.
Torrington 3, Wolcott 0
(25-7, 25-8, 25-12)
At Torrington High School
Highlights: W – Alayna Greene 2 kills, 3 digs; Justine Bracco 4 kills, 5 digs. T – Carissa Carbone 9 kills, 9 digs, 3 aces; Jolie Fox 8 kills, 3 blocks; Lauren Gaghan 7 kills, 2 digs, 3 aces; Nina Lestrud 5 kills; Jayleen Colon 25 assists, 5 digs, 1 ace.
Records: Wolcott 8-9; Torrington 17-1.