By MICHAEL LETENDRE
PLAINVILLE – Maybe one of the squads of the newly formed CCC South division can hang with the Bristol Eastern volleyball team for a set – maybe even two – but when it comes to a complete match, the Lancers have proven to be too tough to defeat.
That’s exactly the deal Plainville had to contend with as Eastern came to the Ivan Wood Gymnasium in Plainville on Monday, Sept. 28 to battle the Blue Devils.
And while the Blue Devils were able to snare a lead in that first tilt, in the end, it was the same old story by the Lancers.
Eastern swept the squad in straight sets for a 3-0 victory from the Ivan Wood Gymnasium in Plainville.
The Blue Devils fell to 4-3 on the season while the tough outfit from Bristol remained undefeated, moving to 6-0. But they had to work a bit as the home squad showed plenty of fire early into things.
Plainville’s Shatsada Lovan led the charge with four kills while Aminah Tsonga (8-for-8 serving) displayed her usual tough all-around game, Erin Brochu (25-for-25 serving) moved the ball around the court nicely while the program also got contributions from Jessica Gorski (4-for-4), Martha Boltromiejuk, Brianna Lagassey, and Kristen Whalen.
The Lancers had many contributors in the winning effort, starting with Bristol Eastern’s Angela Daley (11 kills, 3 aces, 3 digs, 24-of-25 serving) and Megan Gettings (11 kills, 2 aces, 2 digs) who combined for 22 total kills in the contest.
Chyna Barrett chipped in with five kills and four aces; clever Mikayla Martin added three kills, two aces and went 9-of-10 on the serving front; while Paisley Tucker added two kills and two blocks in the winning effort.
Bailey Wyrebek (8 digs) once again played a critical role on defense while Eastern’s two setters, Jess Kenney (28 assists, 2 aces, 22-for-23 serving) and Hannah Langlais (2 assists) moved the ball around with zest all evening long in the offensive schemes for the Lancers.
And once Eastern’s game started to click, Plainville had trouble in its serve-receive schemes.
“I think our serving started to improve,” said Eastern coach Stacy Rivoira. “We missed a lot of serves and we gave them a lot of points on our mistakes. So I think we cleaned up our game, we made fewer mistakes and that made a difference in the overall score.”
The first set was a dog fight to the finish as Eastern – off a slick slam by Daley – nabbed a 15-8 lead before Plainville played its best ball of the match.
Brochu set over some long serves, the Lancers made a few mistakes, and when Shatsada picked up a couple kills, the Blue Devils surged in front by a 17-16 push and forced Eastern into a quick timeout.
“I think we started off strong and then, right now one of our biggest battles is believing that we can compete every single night,” said Plainville coach Jen Gombotz. “I don’t think we competed the entire night. I think we started off on the strong end and then we kind of just took the punches tonight and we made it though the last two games.”
From there, Eastern outscored Plainville 60-19 the rest if the way and simply took control of the contest.
The Lancers ended the first set on a 10-0 burst as Daley dropped in a couple aces, Gettings and Barrett flipped down kills and when Plainville made one final error, the visitors won the first game by a 25-16 final to go ahead 1-0 in the match.
“It was much better competition than we ever had against Plainville and that’s great for every one when the competition rises,” said Rivoira.
In set two, Eastern jumped out early but a couple miscues kept the Blue Devils hanging around and a Tsonga kill, combined with an Eastern mistake, got Plainville within three at 7-4.
But the veteran squad started to excel behind some strong serving and Plainville struggled to put good balls back over the net.
“We talked about how we have to generate our own momentum out of serve-receive and we didn’t do that today,” said Gombotz. “We misplayed a ton of balls.”
Gettings helped Eastern build a ten point lead off her crafty serving and a couple solid kills and when Daley smashed down back-to-back spikes, the Lancers’ edge reached 17-7 in set number two.
Eastern ended the set with an 8-1 zip as Kenney dropped in an ace and when Plainville couldn’t return an offering from Barrett, the Blue Devils – though still fighting, still competitive, fell by a 25-9 score and trailed 2-0 in the match.
“I think in the end, we served really well and in the end, that made a very big difference,” said Rivoira. “We were able to serve-receive very well. Bailey did some great passing in the back row. She was putting the ball right in the setter’s hands and Jessica [Kenney] did a nice job tonight.”
“She took a lot of balls that were not in-system and put them up at the net really well. I’m proud of her too.”
Plainville made it a game in set three, zipping up and early edge in the fray, before a 7-2 Eastern run – highlighted by a kill from Tucker – gave the visitors control of the third set and a 9-5 lead.
Rivoira started Tucker so she could start in three rotations and in that third set, her contributions helped fuel her squad.
“I like having her out there,” said Rivoira of Tucker. “She has great timing, she really does put the ball down. She has a high kill percentage. I do think you kind of forget about her so she swings, she put that ball down and she gives us big points at key moments.”
The Lancers slowly made it a double-figure lead as Barrett dropped in a few aces late and when the Lancers scored the final five points of the match – including a serve from Gettings that Plainville could not return – Eastern took the set 25-10 and swept the match.
Plainville was a bit of a challenge but the week got progressively tougher for the Lancers as the squad tangled with both Platt and crosstown rival Bristol Central.
“On Wednesday, we’ll be challenged by Platt and that will be fun” said Rivoira. “We’ll see where that takes us and see what happens on Wednesday. That will be another big test for us.”
NOTES…Eastern passed its test with Platt, winning three games to two in an ultra-competitive bout and then this past Friday, the Lancers swept Bristol Central 3-0.
By MICHAEL LETENDRE