By MICHAEL LETENDRE
PLAINVILLE – In the Central Connecticut Conference girls volleyball finals, two familiar opponents took the floor of the beautiful Ivan Wood Gymnasium to determine the 2013 champion.
Farmington, coming into the game a stellar 21-0, was the second-ranked team in the tournament and is one of the featured squads in the fray.
Bristol Eastern, the defending CCC Tourney champs, was ranked third and impressively swept second-rated RHAM in the semifinals to make it to the championship tilt.
After a so-so win over E.O. Smith in first round action and a sterling 3-0 victory over RHAM on Friday, Nov. 1, the Lancers were looking for a big finish to open the 2013 postseason and start defending its Class L championship.
Farmington and Eastern slugged it out but in the end, it looked more like a bit of a Lancers’ romp as the Bristol outfit claimed the CCC Tournament Championship three games to one.
Game scores were 25-19, 17-25, 25-15 and 25-12.
Frankly, Eastern (19-2) wanted this one badly and the veterans on the squad had everyone on the same page in this battle to post a huge victory over previously undefeated Farmington (21-1).
“Before the game, I told my entire team that we’re just not a team,” said Eastern setter Brianna Root. “That we’re a family and that’s how we accomplish what we do. We all work together, we all talk together, we all move as a unit. “
“(We’re) individual people working but all together as one.”
And that group played like a well-oiled machine with all of its parts contributing to the winning effort.
Cheyenne Orsi led all players with 22 kills and blocked four shots while Root dished out 37 assists, collected six digs, and was a perfect 8-of-8 on the serving front.
Jenna Rodjenski added blistering totals of 16 kills, 16 digs, 31 hits, and five aces while Maggie Getler had three digs and went 15-of-16 serving.
Shannon Michelson added nine digs, five aces, and one big kill, Bailey Wyrebek zipped out nine digs and was 6-of-7 serving while Brooke Johnson totaled 11 digs.
The first game was a bit of a nail-bitter. However, Eastern never trailed in taking a 24-19 win in the first set. Meanwhile, Farmington came out firing in the second tilt to nab a 25-17 win.
With the match knotted at 1-1, the Lancers racked up a 25-15 win in set three while taking the final period in a stirring 25-12 win to seal the match and repeat as CCC Tournament champions.
“It’s never going to be a blowout against them,” said Eastern coach Stacy Rivoira of Farmington. “They are a team that never gives up and they are a team that’s very determined. No matter what the score is, you have to play like your behind because they make it hard for you.”
Rodjenski started the first set out with three serves that were not returned as Eastern went up a quick 3-0 and never gave up its advantage.
The Lancers’ edge reached six points three times in the stanza. Off a gaffe by Farmington’s Sarah Lipinski, Eastern’s push reached 18-12.
The Indians used a 6-1 run to pull within one at 19-18 but Farmington ended the period making several miscues to lose the frame.
Eastern closed out the first set off a 6-1 tilt of its own and captured a 25-19 win to go ahead 1-0 in the match.
Set two featured three lead changes and six ties. However, off a 4-0 zip by Farmington – capped by an ace from Laura Roman – the Indians went ahead 10-6 and never trailed again in the stanza.
Several mistakes cost the Lancers points on the scoreboard as the Indians increased its biggest advantage to nine points before wrapping up a 25-17 victory to knot things up at 1-1.
But Eastern picked up its level of play in the third and fourth games and instantly turned the complexion of the match around.
“I think that in games three and four, we were able to serve tough and keep their serve-receive off,” said Rivoira. “In game two, we were serve-receiving a lot more and making a lot of mistakes.”
Off a huge ace by Michelson, which bounced off the net and dumped over cleanly on Farmington’s side of the court, Eastern led 10-3. The Indians were forced into taking a timeout.
Farmington used an 8-4 push to cut the deficit to 14-11. However, the Lancers never quit, never paused in the fray.
But a mini 4-1 run – highlighted by a big Orsi kill off a beautiful assist by Root – Eastern built its edge back to 20-13.
“When Cheyenne started hitting, everything else came together,” said Rivoira. “Once our serves started and once we got them off-balanced where they couldn’t get the ball to their hitters, then we were able to generate some more hits on our side because we were getting more free balls.”
The Indians got no closer than six points of the lead to close out the third period. Off a block by Rodjenski that was not returned, the Lancers scooped up a 25-15 win and took a 2-1 match lead.
In the fourth and final tilt, Eastern rode out to a 4-1 lead as an Orsi tip-over gave the Lancers an advantage it would never relinquish again.
Later on, Orsi, Rodjenski and Cruz all smashed kills and off another mistake on Farmington’s end. The Lancers were out in front 17-6.
That lead was too great for the Indians to come back from as a long Rodjenski ace fell in while two final Orsi kills led to a Lancers’ celebration and a 3-1 match win behind a 25-12 game four victory.
“We knew what we had to do,” said Root. “We played them before with this team in the regular season and we just stayed calm and stayed to the basics. When we do that, we can’t be stopped.”
By MICHAEL LETENDRE