By MICHAEL LETENDRE
PLAINVILLE – When you make mistakes on the volleyball court, good teams can overcome such obstacles.
Take Bristol Central’s match against pesky Plainville from the Ivan Wood Gymnasium on Monday, Sept. 23 for example.
The Rams made plenty of gaffes, goofs, and miscues to fill a three-set match but Central overcame its sluggish play, and eventually, drilled the Blue Devils 3-0 in a CCC South tilt.
The game scores were 26-24, 25-10, and 25-6 as Central moved to 5-2 on the campaign.
Plainville fell to 2-5 on the year but played well early as the Rams were a bit rusty and gave the Blue Devils plenty of chances to steal a set or two, especially in the early going.
“We made a lot of mistakes,” said Central coach Jen Broderick. “We probably scored 15 points for them in the first game. We talked about, before the second game, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be winning this game by 25-10 or whatever the scores were.”
But in the end, the Rams’ veterans picked up the slack, and were too much for Plainville to handle even as the Blue Devils made a huge comeback in the first set to make it a game.
Over the finally two sets, it was all Bristol Central and in a major way.
“I thought coming out of the hole that we did, we pushed them as close as we could in that first set,” said Plainville coach Steve Compson. “And my refrain to the girls was simple over the second two sets: you can play with team, you can beat this team.”
“I’m not sure what happened to us but we played the ugliest volleyball of the year over the next two games.”
Over those final two sets, the Blue Devils were outscored 50-16.
Lauren Vallee – doing a little of everything for Central – led the way with six kills, four digs, and three blocks while Cyndey Martin tallied five kills and went 10-for-10 on the serving front.
Setter Lara Colegrove played well, dished out 18 assists, and was 8-for-8 serving.
But when Allie Martel got her mitts on the ball, so many good things happened for the Rams.
Martel scooped up seven kills, seven aces, and was a neat 23-for-23 serving on the evening.
“Allie Martel stepped up with those seven aces,” said Broderick. “She’s a phenomenal server, probably leads the team in aces so far this season. That helps too since are serves were consistent. It’s not that we missed any in the first (game) but it just helped everything move along.”
Erin Palmquist was 14-for-14 on the serving front and Haley Velazquez also did well, and drilled 15-for-15 shots from the back-line.
But the game was a challenge as Plainville looked poised to take the first set off numerous breakdowns by the Rams.
Early, it was all Central as big serving from Velazquez, and kills from Vallee guided the Rams to a 10-1 push.
However, Plainville later used a 7-1 burst, and eventually got within three at 11-8 before the Rams called a timeout.
Colegrove flipped over a shot that started a 6-2 jaunt for the Rams, and off a long hit that failed to land inbounds by Plainville, Central led 17-10.
Eventually, Martel posted back to back kills, and the Rams looked to close the thing out as her squad was in front 22-15.
But mistakes piled up on the Central side of things, and off an un-returnable shot by Plainville’s Sarah Thompson, the set was tied at 24-24, and the Rams‘ collective backs were clearly against the wall.
But a bad serve from Plainville, and one final miscue by the squad pushed the Rams to a 26-24 game one win.
“We talked making adjustments to their hits – in the first game I think we just hit seven or eight balls just clear out of bounds –, and we talked about that,” said Broderick. “(We talked) about getting outside to hit…so I think we did a better job not only on passing in the second game, and third game, communicating, but getting into position to hit the ball.”
Plainville remained pesky going into the second frame, and off three lead changes, and three ties, Central eventually rebuilt its lead for good off an un-returnable serve by Hallie Velazquez, and a big block by Vallee.
The teams traded points from there, and Central built up a 9-6 tilt before the Rams had a bit of an on-court scare.
Off the next volley, senior Jenna Croasdale was heading to the outside of the net – in front of the Central bench – when she couldn’t stop herself as her momentum caused her to slip, and she crashed down to the floor, turning her ankle.
The game was stopped as medical, and team officials attended a visibly shaken Croasdale.
Eventually, she was taken to the hospital but play resumed on the court.
The emotion of the injury seemed to refocus Central, and took the air out of the gym on the Plainville side of things.
After resuming action, Central won the set off a 16-4 burst as the Rams made all the big plays, and the home team made all sorts of mistakes, leading to a 25-10 win, and an imposing 2-0 edge in the match.
“Lara did a better job in the second and third game pushing the ball outside,” said Broderick of Colegrove.
Martel’s imprint was all over the third set, and between her aces, a couple solid hits by Martin, coupled wih Plainville mistakes, Central went up 8-0 and never looked back.
“I just told the girls you’ve got to have confidence,” said Broderick. “You’re on the court for a reason. Coach (Keegan), and I think you should be out there playing, we think you can do great things (so) have confidence in yourself. Go out there, be smart, but be aggressive.”
Later in the fray, the Blue Devils ran out of gas, and off a stunning kill by Martel, the visiting squad zipped up an 18-5 push.
In the end, Kenzie Weber and Hannah Lemek dropped in shots that Plainville could not return. Finally, off one ultimate foiled serve by the Blue Devils, Central racked up a 25-6 win, and took the match by a 3-0 final.
“I think in the first game, we were pushing a lot of balls, just kind of playing on our heels, being timid, making a lot of mistakes,” said Broderick. “But in the second and third games, it ended up being the other way around just the way I thought it should have been.”
By MICHAEL LETENDRE