Griswold starts fast before fading in M volleyball semis from TheDay.comWolverines win first game; it’s all Sachems (23-0) from there
by Ned Griffen
Cheshire — Griswold High School was feeling pretty good about itself after taking the first game of its CIAC Class M girls’ volleyball semifinal match against defending champion RHAM of Hebron.
Little did Griswold know that the Sachems were just getting warmed up.
RHAM took over the match and took out the Wolverines, 27-29, 25-19, 25-15, 25-16, on Wednesday at Cheshire High.
”We were all pumped up,” Griswold’s Cailin Sorder said about Game 1. “We thought we could pull it off. I think our intensity started to drop a little. We just fell apart.”
The Wolverines (19-4) were in position to win Game 1 comfortably, leading 21-16.
The Sachems (23-0) stormed back and tied it before losing.
”We don’t play really well in Game 1s,” RHAM coach Tim Guernsey said. “It wasn’t a state of panic where, ‘Oh, my God — we lost 29-27.’ It was just like, ‘All right, we have to pick up the pace a little bit.’”
The Sachems used their superior offensive firepower to spray the ball all over the court and slowly wear down Griswold. One moment, Kelsey Welling (13 kills) recorded a kill. Next, it was Kelly Stratton (seven kills). And no one had a bigger impact on the match than Tessa Smolinski (12 kills, 12 digs).
”We just didn’t play the way we did in Game 1,” Sorder said. “We didn’t play with the same intensity or the same fire. Against a great team like that, you can’t play down.”
Said Griswold coach Jamie Bruno: “(The Sachems) have a well-balanced attack. They attack from the right side, the middle, the left side, the outside. They’re just tough to defend against.”
Jocelyn Taylor and Welling, RHAM’s middle hitters, also began to take control of the net and forced Katherine Pearce (20 kills) and Sorder (25 kills) to adjust their kill attempts.
”In the beginning, I tried to use the court, use the spots that were open,” Sorder said. “They started blocking and I was forced to use other spots. Then they starting catching on and started digging.”
The Sachems might have torn though the Wolverines more quickly had it not been for the defense of Kelsey Wilcox (24 digs).
”She’s a great defensive player,” Bruno said of Wilcox. “She works hard and goes all out for every ball, every time. … She had some great digs, some great passes on balls.”
Nina Wojtkiewicz had 39 assists and three digs for Griswold and Stephanie Pollard added six blocks.
”I’m so proud of every girl that plays on this team,” Sorder said. “We really came together. By the end of the season, we were one unit. I wouldn’t trade anybody on this team for anybody else.”
Link: Griswold Starts Fast
From the Hartford Courant
by Lori Riley
RHAM defeats Griswold: RHAM-Hebron swept through the Class M tournament last year, winning each match 3-0, including the final against Joel Barlow.
“Last year with sweeping the whole thing, I think they felt like that’s something they needed to do,” RHAM coach Tim Guernsey said. “That’s not us. That’s not who we are. We’re a completely different team.”
The Sachems, who lost five starters from their championship team, were a little tight Wednesday in the first game of their Class M semifinal, losing 29-27 to Griswold. But they won the next three games 25-19, 25-15, 25-16 to advance to Friday’s Class M final at Newington. RHAM will play Law-Milford, a 3-2 winner over Sacred Heart-Hamden, at 8.
“Every game, our first game is never good,” junior Tessa Smolinski said. “Then we get our heads into the game.”
Smolinski, an outside hitter, had 12 kills and 12 digs, and went 27-for-27 on serves, including nine aces. Kelsey Welling had 13 kills and Mallory Grosso had 15 digs for RHAM (23-0).
Cailin Sorder had 25 kills and Katherine Pearce 20 kills for Griswold (18-3).
Defending state champion RHAM defeated Griswold, 3-1 (27-29, 25-19, 25-15, 25-16) in the Class M semifinal to advance to the Class M championship Friday night at Newington High.
Some RHAM stats:
Tessa Smolinski: 12 kills, 12 digs, 27 for 27 serving
Kelsey Welling 13 kills
Mallory Grosso 15 digs
RHAM is 23-0.