TORRINGTON >> Three games into the season, Torrington High School’s undefeated girls volleyball team has already overcome last year’s final obstacle.
A year ago, Bristol Central knocked the Red Raiders out of the Class L state tournament in the second round.
Friday, in a close match (25-22; 23-25; 25-22; 25-22) in which each side overcame huge deficits, the Raiders came out of a final late-game tie for a 3-1 win in games.
The Rams (2-1), bringing back all but one key player from last year’s team, didn’t lose a game in their first two matches, against Berlin and New Milford.
Torrington coach Christine Gamari, whose team played without senior libero Shelby Consolini, counted on the Rams being tough.
“I scheduled this game intentionally because we played so poorly against them (a 3-0 shutout) in the state tournament last year,” said Gamari. “I thought it would be nice to prove to our girls that they are a state tournament team.”
The point took a while to sink in.
The Rams took a 15-5 lead in Game One behind Ali Martel (5 kills, 9 digs), Cydney Martin (6 kills, 14 digs) and Lauren Vallee (9 kills, 3 blocks).
After a kill by junior Samantha Zordan (7 kills, 4 aces, 11 digs) and unforced errors on each side, Zordan settled the Raiders with three straight serving aces on a march all the way back to 19-18 on a final block by Brianna Henry.
“They’re a good team, but so are we,” said Bristol Central coach Jennifer Broderick. “We made a lot of mistakes; we gave them a lot of points with unforced errors.”
The Rams held on for the win in Game One, 25-22.
They proved themselves, just like the Raiders, by coming back strong in Game Two.
Turning the tables from Game One, Torrington followed junior Carly Ruzbasan (13 kills, 5 aces, 10 digs), senior Jenna Gyuricsko (7 kills, 1 ace, 6 digs) and senior setter Kiley Rosengrant (34 assists, 2 kills, 9 digs) to a 12-5 lead.
The Rams charged back to a 23-23 tie.
This time, Torrington held on, with two final serving points by Zordan bringing home the 25-23 win.
At 1-1, Coach Gamari’s point was well made. Her Raiders knew they could play with the Rames. Now, to get past them.
Game Three was another uphill struggle.
“Every day in practice, I tell them we’re down 20-15, then we play from there,” said Gamari. “Tonight, I look up and, lo and behold, it was 20-15. I told them, ‘It’s just like practice.’ I think that gave them confidence.”
The Raiders pushed through for a 25-22 win with a final-point kill by Ruzbasan, two games to one.
One more game and last year’s shadow was gone.
If it was easy, the moral would have been lost.
Two magnificent volleys told the story for both teams.
Torrington freshman Carissa Carbone and sophomore Caitlyn Cornish combined for a block ending the first one, 17-16, Raiders.
Bristol Central ended the second with a ball into the net, 19-18, Torrington.
The teams tied at 20-20. Then the Raiders pulled away to a 25-22 final win. Zordan hit a spot for the first Torrington point; Rosengrant pulled a quick-set for Ruzbasan for the second; Ruzbasan had another kill; Cornish served an ace.
With Bristol Central threatening one more time, 24-22, Ruzbasan had the final say, another kill, 25-22.
“It was a big win for us,” said Rosengrant.
Torrington 3, Bristol Central 2
(25-22; 23-25; 25-22; 25-22)
At Torrington High School
Highlights: BC-Lauren Vallee 9 kills; 3 blocks. Cydney Martin 6 kills, 14 digs; Ali Martel 5 kills, 9 digs; Lara Collegrove 23 assists. T-Carly Ruzbasan 13 kills, 5 aces, 10 digs; Samantha Zordan 7 kills, 4 aces, 11 digs; Kiley Rostengrant 34 assists, 2kills, 9 digs; Jenna Gyuncsko 7 kills, 1 ace, 6 digs.
Records: Bristol Central 2-1; Torrington 3-0.