TRUMBULL — Ali Castro set a pace that was altered at times, but never changed course when Trumbull defeated St. Joseph, 3-0 (25-17, 25-23, 25-20) in an FCIAC girls volleyball match on Tuesday night.
Castro, who finished with 28 assists, served coach Nicole Trommelen’s Eagles to an 8-0 advantage in the first set. The junior had an ace during the run, and classmate Bailey Cenatiempo had spikes that resulted in four more points.
“I think we were really excited to play our town rival. I’m really glad we had our energy up and played very well together,” said Cenatiempo, who finished with 11 kills, 16 digs and four aces.
That teamwork pleased Trommelen.
“We knew coming in that St. Joseph was going to play us well,” she said. “We wanted to keep more balls alive and focused on making them earn their points. Tonight was a step in the right direction.”
Ashleigh Johnson led the way defensively for the Eagles from her libero position, and the senior had ample help from fellow captain Natalie Onofreo, Kat Zanvetter, Cenatiempo, Amanda Sullivan and Alina Goncalves.
It was 13-7 in game one when St. Joseph had the first of many rallies.
“The best thing is that we fought, not only down 8-0, but in every game,” St. Joseph coach Jeff Babineau aaid. “We battled to the last point. We are young, 7-5 (6-4 FCIAC), and the girls are figuring it out.”
The Cadets’ Grace Brady had three service winners, and after a side out, Sofia Tedesco came off the bench to string seven points together. The most telling was a block from Lily Mattison that made it 14-12 Trumbull.
The St. Joe deficit was 19-16 after one rotation of servers. Cenatiempo put the set away with five points from the stripe, starting with an ace. Maeve Hampford had a kill and a block.
In game two, Cenatiempo had a pair of aces after a series of side outs. Johnson served up four winners, with Goncalve’s spike the most telling to make it 8-3.
Chloe Zalenski stopped another mini run by the Eagles and a block by Ava Turcio tipped the momentum scale toward the home team.
St. Joe’s Kaitlyn Paige had a three-point stay at the stripe, and then Zalenski added four more with an ace for a 15-14 Cadet lead
Down 19-16, Trommelen called for time.
Trumbull countered behind Onofreo, who had a kill, a block and an ace in a quick series of rallies to tie things at 21.
The Cadets’ Katie Spangenberg kept things level with a push over a block attempt and then a kill, before the Eagles’ Zanvetter served out the 25-23 game two win.
The third set followed suit, with Trumbull taking four to six-point leads and St. Joseph hammering its way back. The Eagles prevailed, 25-20.
“We tried not to be so obvious with our attack, and Ali (Castro) did a good job mixing it up with our hitters,” Trommelen said. “This was our eighth win and it is definitely big to get into the postseason.”
Trumbull is 8-2 overall and 7-2 in the FCIAC.
“We’re playing catchup (in league play) because we’ve played less matches,” said Trommelen, whose squad is looking to win its second consecutive conference championship.
“This was a big game and we have four more coming up beginning with Warde on Thursday. We have an out of league match with Shelton on Saturday and then Wilton and Danbury.”
PLAYER OF THE MATCH
Trumbull’s Bailey Cenatiempo filled the stat sheet with 11 kills, 16 digs and four aces.
“We knew coming in that St. Joseph was going to play us well. We wanted to keep more balls alive and focused on making them earn their points. Tonight was a step in the right direction.” — Trumbull coach Nicole Trommelen