Rams challenge Falcons, but eventually swept away

By MICHAEL LETENDRE
STAFF WRITER
REDDING – The Bristol Central volleyball team made a real run at the Class L top seed Joel Barlow on Tuesday, Nov. 13.
But in the end, the Falcons lived up to its top billing and ended the Rams season with a 3-0 sweep of Central from the Joel Barlow gymnasium in Redding, Conn.
With the loss, the Rams finished the 2012 campaign with an impressive 15-5 ledger while Barlow has not lost a set all season long, winning each and every set and game on its slate.
Central led 7-6 in the first game and 8-4 in the third before eventually falling in all three contests.
Emily McKenzie (11 kills, 3 aces, 4 digs) once again showed grit in her final scholastic game while Lauren Vallee (5 kills, 4 digs) also played well in the loss.
The Rams’ defense made some solid stops but in the end, the top-rated Falcons were just a bit more offensively proficient.
“When we hit the ball at them, I think most of the time when we played our game and we got the ball the way Emily and Lauren can hit it, it was our point,” said Bristol Central coach Jen Broderick. “But (Barlow) has a strong offense and they hit the ball very well. They hit to spots in the deep corners, they hit the line and they’re a faster paced team than we’re used to.”
“Needless to say, our defense turned it around and when we weren’t playing on our heels and our defense was in position, we picked up the ball.”
Erin Palmquist also played well and added four digs while setter Lara Colegrove dished out 17 assists while also adding five digs.
Ali Martel and Cydney Martin also played well in defeat but when Central faced deficits in each set, the visiting club could not find a way to find its way of the jams.
“We couldn’t get a rally together I think,” said Broderick. “We couldn’t get a string of points in a row and our confidence lacked in the second game definitely. We let our heads get inside the game.”
Central trailed early in game one but off a 3-0 jaunt – including a clean ace from Palmquist – the Rams led 7-6.
But Barlow took control of the stanza, going on a 6-0 blazing run, as the Falcons took a 12-7 edge.
Barlow eventually went in front by 11 via an ace from Allie Grimes before winning game one, 25-15.
But even as the Falcons seized early momentum in the second showdown, the Rams made a run at it again in the second set.
Colegrove found McKenzie early in the second set for a big slam and point as Central led 2-1.
“When we got the ball to our setter, she got the ball the ball to Lauren and Emily and I feel when they hit the ball well, and not out of bounds, it was our point many of the times,” said Broderick. “Our hits weren’t consistent tonight. They were a little bit off balance.”
But that rally wouldn’t hold as Barlow ended the period off a blazing 24-2 push as one last ace by Taylor Jacquemin gave the Falcons a 25-6 win and a 2-0 lead in the match.
In the third and final game, Central once again came out swinging – refusing to yield – and scored eight of the first 12 points in the period.
Leading by one, Martin sent a hit over that wasn’t returned, McKenzie sent down a forceful ace and off a misplayed ball by Barlow, the Rams snatched a big 8-4 lead.
The Falcons responded with an 8-1 burst and secured a 12-9 lead midway through things.
Central hung around and off another Barlow mistake, the Rams were within two points of the lead at 18-16 before the home team made one last push.
Barlow wrapped up the match of a 7-1 jaunt and off one last tip over from Hannah Goetz, the Falcons won the game 25-17 and took the match 3-0.
The game marked the final contest for Central seniors Emily McKenzie, Lauren Hartwell, and Gretchen Edelman.
All three players have been an instrumental part of the successful program while captain Emily McKenzie has been one of the area’s featured players all season long.
“I can’t be prouder to be part of this team,” said Broderick. “Joel Barlow is a great volleyball team. And who knows, a point or two either way in that first game or that third game…it’s a different game. I couldn’t be prouder to be their coach and I think they played a great game tonight. I think they believed they could have won. I believed they could have won.”
“We just had to be on our A-game and we weren’t on our A-game.”
NOTES…Two days later, Barlow was upset by fourth ranked East Lyme 3-2. Games scores were 18-25, 25-22, 25-23, 20-25 and 15-9.