By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – The 2013 CCC girls volleyball tournament might as well have been labeled the Class L playoffs light.
And light didn’t refer to the quality of Class L talent in the fray.
Simply put, those five Class L squads battled it out in the first round of the postseason tournament and that included home-standing Bristol Eastern – the third ranked squad in the CCC tourney – going up against No. 6 Edwin O. Smith in a contest played from the Thomas M. Monahan Gymnasium in Bristol on Wednesday, October 30.
The Lancers had to shake off a bit of rust in the match as the Panthers capitalized on several Eastern gaffs but were still swept 3-0.
Eastern won the event by game scores of 25-17, 25-13 and 29-27 as pesky E.O. Smith simply would not go away.
With the victory, the Lancers moved to a neat 17-2 ledger on the season while the Panthers fell to 17-4.
The win also propelled Eastern to the semifinals of the CCC tournament as the Lancers and RHAM squared off Nov. 1 in what was a rematch of last season’s CCC tournament final.
E.O. Smith battled but too much Cheyenne Orsi and Brianna Root lent to the Panthers’ doom and demise as the duo racked up several kills and assists, respectively, to sink the visiting team.
But several Eastern mistakes and goofs gave E.O. plenty of life in the match to possibly steal a set or two.
However, that never occurred as the Lancers found late avenues to stay in control and eventually took all three sets.
“We couldn’t finish the play for sure,” said Eastern coach Stacy Rivoira. “(We had) lots of mistakes that shouldn’t be happening at this point in the season.”
The Panthers had a stranglehold on Eastern in all three sets but the Lancers were too experienced and used its size – and defense – at the net to keep E.O. from getting solid possessions.
The squad did just enough to make the third game a real nail-bitter and the third and final game saw eight ties in a back-and-forth set.
“We served to their libero too many times’” said Rivoira. “We’re serving to their best passer, which didn’t help us run an offense. They put up a great big block, which caused us some frustration and trouble. They were attacking us in our weakest areas and we weren’t adjusting. And our serve receive wasn’t our best.”
“So, it made it a game in game three.” Orsi wrangled up a game-high 23 kills while Jenna Rodjenski blasted 11 kills to pace the Lancers.
Root, the crafty Eastern setter, once again was all over the court and zipped up 39 assists and four aces in another big-time effort.
She might have even blocked a shot or two in the contest as well and dropped in a big kill to put Eastern at 24-23 in the third game and had the Panthers on the verge of game-point.
“I’m glad that Bri is back,” said Rivoira of her setter. “She didn’t have to work extremely hard today, which was good after she had a bruised tail-bone. I wasn’t even sure if she was going to be able to play today.”
Maggie Getler, Bailey Wyrebek, and Brooke Johnson also played well in the winning effort.
It was a back and forth first set with each team jockeying for position. With Eastern holding on to a 17-15 push, the Lancers made its move to end the stanza.
A long kill by Shannon Michelson propelled Eastern on 7-1 burst as Orsi and Root connected on three kills while Kaylee Cruz unleashed another to put the Panthers on the brink at 24-16.
One additional error by E.O. Smith gave the Lancers a 25-17 win in game one.
In the second tilt, the Panthers opened things with a 6-1 run. Off an Eastern timeout, that edge was quickly erased.
The Lancers instituted a 10-2 push and off a slam by Rodjenski, Eastern’s lead reached 11-8.
Smith cut the deficit to one (11-10). Off a bad serve by Cristina Vincente, Eastern went on a set-ending run to close the thing out.
Off a 14-3 zip – including some slick serving by junior reserve Saige Ryan – Eastern won the set 25-13 and went ahead in the match 2-0.
“I wanted to see how she was able to adjust to being in there,” said Rivoira of Ryan. “She practices with us every day but I wanted to make sure she was comfortable should something happen, that she should be able to adapt, and go into the games.”
“She did well…I was very happy with her.”
In the third and final set, Smith led 3-0 off the bat and rode up a 9-6 edge. However, a 6-0 Lancers’ run made it a 12-9 lead in Eastern’s favor via a Michelson ace.
E.O. Smith would never taste the lead again but later tied the period off several tips by Kayley Crooke that fell down untouched. The game then was knotted at 23-23.
“We didn’t adjust at all,” said Rivoira of the tips by Crooke. “We didn’t adjust and we were lucky that we won that one. We really gave them a lot of points off our mistakes and they forced us to make errors, which is what good teams do.”
“We can’t afford to be doing that during this point of the season.”
Eastern had four match-points. However, it couldn’t capitalize on any until Orsi dropped in a huge slam. That was followed by a ball Kelly Quirion was simply trying to get over the net for the set-winning point. The Lancers wrapped up a 29-27 win and a 3-0 match sweep to move on to the CCC Semifinal round.
“I just felt like we were pretty flat tonight (and) I would expect better from them,” said Rivoira. “I’m not happy with the way we played. I’m happy we won but knowing what we’re up against in the next week or two, we need a much better game than that.”
NOTES…Cheyenne Orsi and Jenna Rodjenski were both selected to the Senior All-star game on Nov. 18 from Plainville High School with a time TBD.
2013 CCC Girls Volleyball Tournament
First Round Brackets
Wednesday, Oct. 30 – All at the site of the Highest Seed:
Game 1: No. 8 South Windsor at No. 1 Farmington; The Indians won 3-0
Game 2: No. 5 Platt at No. 4 Glastonbury; The Tomahawks upset Platt 3-2
Game 3: No. 6 Edwin O. Smith at No. 3 Bristol Eastern; Lancers won 3-0
Game 4: No. 7 Simsbury at No. 2 RHAM; RHAM beat Simsbury 3-0
Friday, Nov. 1 – Semifinals: from the Ivan Wood Gymnasium, Plainville
Game 5: Game one winner (Farmington) vs. Game two winner (Glastonbury); Farmington won 3-0
Game 6: Game three winner (Bristol Eastern) vs. Game four winner (RHAM); Eastern won 3-0
Saturday, Nov. 2 – Finals: from the Ivan Wood Gymnasium, Plainville
Game 7: Game five winner (Farmington) vs. Game six winner (Bristol Eastern)
Finals: Bristol Eastern defeated Farmington, 3-1 (25-19, 17-25, 25-15, 25-12)
Seed – How the top eight CCC squads were ranked:
No. 1: Farmington (14-0, 19-0 overall), Coin Toss
No. 2: RHAM (14-0, 18-0 overall)
No. 3: Bristol Eastern (14-0, 16-2 overall), Overall winning percentage
No. 4: Glastonbury (14-0, 16-3 overall)
No. 5: Platt (12-2, 17-3 overall), defeated E.O. Smith and Simsbury, head-to-head
No. 6: Edwin O. Smith (12-2, 17-3) Overall winning percentage
No. 7: Simsbury (12-2, 15-3 overall)
No. 8: South Windsor (11-3, 15-4 overall)