By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – When the Bristol Central volleyball squad wrangled up its second victory of the season against a scrappy group from Plainville, it truly was a team effort by the Rams.
And it showed on the scoreboard.
Getting contributions from everyone, Central zipped up a 3-0 win over the Blue Devils from Bristol on Monday, Sept. 22 in a CCC South clash.
Game scores were 25-7, 25-20, and 25-16.
No player racked up big numbers in the winning tally but for Central (2-5), several athletes came to the forefront.
“We don’t have one star player,” said Central coach Jennifer Broderick. “We all contribute and that’s what I really like about our team.”
Central junior Alexa Caron picked up four kills and blocked four shots in a tremendous effort while Hailee Velazquez added four kills, two blocks, and two aces.
Allie Martel played her usual tough game and nabbed four kills over the winning effort.
Plainville (0-6) showed some fight, as usual, but just couldn’t string anything together.
The Blue Devils had difficulty with Central’s serve-receive and when Plainville put a drive together, miscues, and bad sets doomed the visitors.
Plainville had chances to slip into each of the last two games but just couldn’t find the consistency to make it happen.
“If you can’t pass in volleyball, it turns into a very long night,” said Plainville coach Steve Compson. “It was a very disappointing night. If we have somebody that’s on a roll passing well, the next one doesn’t pass well. I thought we had played better against Platt, with a lot of intensity against Newington to close out the other night and we really didn’t bring any of that here.”
But Central did pass the ball well and when setter Lilly Sundgren (14 assists) got the right set-ups, the Rams made big slams and kills on the Plainville side of the court.
“Today, we passed very well,” said Broderick. “Our hitters were getting the ball and they put it away. We played a lot tougher mentally, which I think is super important especially in games where a ball can go either way. Plainville is a good team. So if we have let up, they would have come back. I think we were more mentally tough tonight than we have been all season.”
“It was fun to watch them play that way.”
The match featured five lead changes and 11 ties but most of that was early on in sets and once Plainville got into a hole, it was tough going digging their way out.
“Part of that is you have to have pride in what you’re doing and you also have to have the feeling that you’re going to get a little angry,” said Compson. “The other night, they got angry. Tonight, I didn’t see anything like angry, they were losing. When we’re 0-6, you’ve got to bring your best game every night and fight like hell to get out of it.”
“We didn’t do that.”
Central’s Cydney Martin wasn’t her usual self on the court either but added an important three kills and two aces to the winning effort.
Between Martin and Martel, the duo showed the leadership necessary to navigate a spirited challenge from the Blue Devils.
“Cydney was not feeling 100-percent tonight,” said Broderick of Martin. “She’s under the weather…she was probably at 40-percent, if that, tonight. And she probably had her best game of the season just serving. Her hits were down, they were on-point.”
Emilia Filipkowska went a tough 10-for-10 from the service line while Emily Duda went 7-for-7 for Plainville.
Sophomore Aminah Tsonga added grit and hustle while Brianna Lagassey made gains with her pin-point serving as the Blue Devils tried to make a match of it.
With the score at 1-1, Martin served up serves that were not returnable as Central used a 6-0 run to make it a 7-1 game in the first set.
Tsonga slipped in two serves of her own as the Blue Devils made it a 7-4 game.
However, the set deficit would soon be a double-digit affair.
“Aminah brings everything she has,” said Compson. “Tonight, she’s not feeling well. She told us that finally in the third set. Tonight, I think she had more errors than she ever had but, boy, does that kid keep trying. And that’s the thing you have to impress upon the other kids.”
“A couple times tonight, you had two seniors out on the floor and the ball is dropping between them and if seniors aren’t going to have the pride in what needs to be done, it’s tough to win.”
The Rams notched 18 of the sets final 21 points and off a kill by Velazquez and a Plainville error, Central won it by a 25-7 tally to take a 1-0 match lead.
Plainville put up one heck of an effort in set two of the match, leading 7-3 off a gaffe by Martel and when Lagassey slipped in an ace, Plainville tabbed a 13-9 edge.
But once Central got their passing in check, the Rams soon regained the lead.
Velazquez dropped a slam, Martel tied the set of a kill and Taylor Jacquemin dumped over a shot and at 18-17, the Rams never trailed again.
“That goes back to our passing and just getting the ball to our setter,” said Broderick. “We’ve been working on that in practice the past week. When we have the chance to get a free-ball pass set to us on our side, it has to be a perfect pass because we need a hit.
“Our hitters need the ball…it has to happen.”
A slick kill by Plainville’s Martha Boltromiejuk tied the set at 19-19 but Central used a 6-1 run to end things as Martin kicked in a kill to propel the Rams to a 25-20 win and a 2-0 set lead.
“We have some talented people,” said Compson. “Emilia Filipkowska gets us a handful of kills every night despite the passing problems. Martha does a good job with big hands at the net. But occasionally like tonight, they fell asleep passing, they fell asleep in the front row.
Again, Plainville gave it a run in the third and final set but eventually trailed 9-6 off a Martin kill.
Tsonga dropped in a shot that was not returnable and Boltromiejuk slipped in a kill to make it a one point affair midway through things.
That’s as close as the visitors got the rest of the way.
Plainville later missed on three serve attempts – the last giving the Rams an important 17-12 lead.
One last surge, leading to a game-ending 8-3 jaunt by Central, the Rams won match number two of the year behind a 25-15 set three win.
“We’re young in some ways but some of the younger kids have played more volleyball than the older kids and they really understand that they need to step up in a major way to help this team,” said Compson. “We need six consistent players out on the court and we haven’t had that for many sets. It’s very frustrating.
“I think right now, part of the problem is the coaching staff is taking it harder than the players are.”
With Central getting that crucial second victory, the Rams are looking for bigger and better things in the future.
“Like I told the girls last week, we can only improve from here,” said Broderick. “Volleyball is a game of mistakes and we’re got to learn from them, get better from them and that’s what we’re doing.”
Comments? Email mletendre@BristolObserver.com
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