By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – The Bristol Eastern girls volleyball is on a mission in 2012 and, frankly, it doesn’t matter what team is in the Lancers’ way as the squad is rolling over everyone in its collective sights.
The latest victim, from Wednesday, Oct. 10, was Middletown and the Lancers made the visiting squad pay early and often.
Eastern racked up its 11th straight victory in 11 tries as the Lancers were 3-0 match winners over the Blue Dragons by scores of 25-13, 25-8 and 25-3 from the Thomas M. Monahan Gymnasium in Bristol from the campus of Bristol Eastern.
Middletown fell to 2-7 in the losing effort against the Lancers.
Karissa Smith led the Eastern charge with 15 kills and six aces while Cheyenne Oris picked up 11 kills.
Jenna Rodjenski added 10 aces, four kills and went 28-of-30 on serving, Kelly Quirion was 7-of-8 on the serving front, and Brianna Root was 4-of-4 serving.
Then there was setting sensation Brianna Root, who was serving up passes like a McDonald’s drive through attendant would be serving out french fries, hot apple pies, and Big Macs.
And in both cases, everyone got what they wanted as Root set some perfect passes that Smith, Orsi and the like pounced upon to rack up quick kills to pile up the points.
Eastern had to shake off some early rust in the first game but once the Lancers were playing the way they were capable of, Middletown was completely shutdown.
“I think the girls were very relaxed in the first game,” said Eastern coach Stacy Rivoira. “Then they pulled it together and did what they needed to do. They knew what they had to do. They get a little relaxed when they play a team they beat… significantly the last time and when you come back and face them again, it requires some concentration, some focus.”
“They played really loose the first game…but we won.”
The Lancers started the game off very strongly, off the strength of Hubina’s serving, and a kill by Smith as Eastern grabbed a 5-0 push But Middletown used a 3-1 run to trail by only 6-3.
Eastern regained control of the outing and when Smith came in with her jump-serves. Middletown did not have any answer.
The Lancers edged in front 15-4 but off a 4-0 jaunt by the Blue Dragons, Middletown was only trailing by eight.
Off a miscue by Middletown, Eastern snatched a 20-9 lead and the Blue Dragons never got any closer than eight points the rest of the way.
The Lancers secured a 25-13 win in set one as the match was off and running.
In set two, Middletown pulled in front 1-0 but that advantage was immediately snuffed out.
Off the strong serving of Rodjenski and a slam by Smith, Eastern took a 15-3 tilt as the only points the Blue Dragons scored were off serving errors.
But once Middletown got down via double-figures, there was no crawling out of that hole.
Smith popped out a couple aces and off another Orsi slam and point, the Lancers lead grew to 21-6 and the home team eventually took the set 25-8.
And then, things got serious for Eastern.
After the Blue Dragons scooped up a 1-0 push, Middletown was shut down for the rest of the evening.
Off a Rodjenski slam, the game became a 2-2 affair and the junior from Eastern got a chance to service once again.
Some of Rodjenski’s serves were not returnable and the balls that Middletown bounced over the net were quickly smashed back on the visitors’ side of the court.
“It was a serving game and obviously with Jenna serving 18 points in the last game,” Eastern took firm control of the game said Rivoira.
After one final serve by Rodjenski, Eastern was ahead 20-2 and then used the power of Smith on the service line to close things out.
Off a big blocked shot by Orsi, Eastern had the match in hand, won the third set 25-3, and swept the fray by a 3-0 total.
“This is a hard time the second time around when you’ve beaten a team and you mentally have to prepare for them again,” said Rivoira of sweeping Middletown. “Regardless of who the opponent is, (the players) know that they still have to play their game. I think they tightened it up in the second and third game. They came back to play more like themselves and they have the ability to do that.”
“I’m proud they were able to do that and didn’t continue like their first game, staying as relaxed as they were.”
By MICHAEL LETENDRE