MILFORD – With a chance to take a two games to none lead against Cheshire, the Foran volleyball team was unable to put away the Rams in the second game. That inability to close out the game would haunt the Lions in the end.
Behind the play of Mallory Groom in the second game, and nine kills from senior Molly Michaud in the match, Cheshire rallied to a 23-25, 25-22, 25-23, 25-11 victory in a Southern Connecticut Conference interdivision match over Foran at Foran High Wednesday afternoon.
“The game of volleyball is a forgiving sport,” Groom said. “If you mess up, you get a million chances to redeem yourself. We had lots of chances to come back in that game and we were able to do so.”
Groom was the catalyst in the game which turned the match around as her play, along with Michaud, helped turn an 18-10 deficit into a 25-22 victory. The Rams outscored the Lions 15-4 down the stretch, using three kills by Michaud late in the game to pull out the win.
Trailing by two points with Groom coming to the service line, Cheshire evened the game at 21 on a kill by Michaud. With the game even at 22, the Rams rolled out the final three points of the game to swing the momentum of the match around.
“I think my team may be thinking they can’t win these games,” Foran coach Julie Johnson said after her team fell to 5-5 with its third straight loss. “Our inexperience shows. They have to learn when they get down, they have to get right back up. So, when things are going good, we are good. When we start making mistakes, it is hard to get back in the game.”
The third game was more of the same, a battle which went back and forth throughout. A kill by Lindsey Abramson put Cheshire up 18-17, before kills by Groom had the Rams on top 20-19 and 22-19.
Michaud delivered an ace to put the Rams on top 23-19, before the Lions answered with kills by Katherine Kiernan and Lauren Notholt to get within 24-22. An ace by Amanda Mendillo brought the Lions within 24-23, but an error at the end proved costly to the Lions.
“We were able to stay in every game,” Cheshire coach Sue Bavone said after her team improved to 6-1 with its fifth straight win. “We are looking to be consistent. We are looking for the right combination of kids to be consistent. Our serves keep us in the game.”
The Rams closed out the Lions in quick fashion in the fourth game, jumping out to an 8-3 lead. Three straight aces by Kellie Phipps increased Cheshire’s lead to 21-8, before Groom closed the match with a kill.
Cheshire looked as if it would have an easy time to start the contest, taking a 19-9 lead following an ace by Qian Jing. Trailing 23-17 after a kill by Michaud, Foran rolled off the final eight points of the game to post the victory.
Kills by Viktoria Notholt had the Lions within 21-15, 23-18 and 23-21. Four consecutive errors by the Rams ended the first game in Foran’s favor.
“It is inexplicable how we can give up a lead like that,” Bavone said. “We were second guessing who would get the ball. We have a lot of kids on the team who can pass who need to go after balls and make plays.”
Michaud finished with nine kills, one dig and two aces, while Phipps ran the Cheshire offense with 18 assists.
“You are always disappointed when you lose,” Johnson said. “We will get back to practice and work hard. We will work hard to get better. They just have to keep fighting.”
Lauren Notholt led Foran with 18 digs and five aces, Caitlyn Parisi had 14 digs and Kiernan finished with nine kills.