NEWINGTON — RHAM, one of the most complete girls’ volleyball teams in the state, had an answer for everything Law served up in the Class M state championship game.
The Sachems set the tone in the first game, scoring the first nine points of the match, as Tessa Smolinski and Kelsey Welling provided most of the offense and Mallory Grasso the defense in the match to lead No. 1-seeded RHAM to a 3-0 win over No. 11 Law at Newington High.
The Sachems won 25-18, 25-18, 25-15.
Smolinski, named the tournament most valuable player, had 14 kills and 10 digs, Welling added eight kills and six blocks, and Grasso had 11 digs. Setter Ellie Linden had 34 assists.
It is the second straight Class M title for the Sachems, who finished a perfect season at 24-0.
“I can safely say we haven’t faced a team like RHAM this season, a team that can come at you with back row hitters, middle hitters and front row hitters,” Law coach Stacy Loch said. “We faced teams that were strong in one of those areas, but not all three at the same time. We had a rough first game, and those first nine points let them know what they were in for. But our girls never gave up and worked right to the end.
“We just made a few bad passes and little mistakes that added up. The girls knew that had to bring everything they had in order to beat that team.”
Casey Dulin led the Eagles (19-5) with 16 kills and eight digs, Kathleen Sweeney had 13 digs and five kills, her twin sister, Megan, added 15 digs, and sophomore Meaghan Abbott had four kills and six digs.
In the first game, the Sachems took a 9-0 lead and never trailed. A block by Law’s Chelsea Rohrig stopped the bleeding at 9-1. The Eagles chipped away and another Rohrig block cut the lead to 20-18. But the Sachems scored five unanswered points, capped by a Kelly Stratton kill, to close out the game 25-18.
RHAM also controlled the second game early. A Stratton block gave the Sachems a 3-2 lead they never lost. RHAM took its biggest lead at 18-9 when Law was called for going over the net. The Eagles couldn’t put together a significant run and lost 25-18.
The third game was close early on. Kathleen Sweeney tied the match at 7 with a kill. The Sachems went out to a 10-8 lead and a Dulin kill cut the score to 10-9. But seven unanswered points by the Hebron school, capped by a Smolnski kill, effectively put the game away with the Sachems leading 17-9.
“The girls were very geared up for this game,” RHAM coach Tim Guernsey said. “They were ready to go at 5 p.m. and our bus didn’t leave until 5:45 p.m. Our first title last year was special, but this one I will never forget. It’s not every day that you win a state title and finish the season unbeaten.
“Law had a good season. But our girls deserved everything they got. They all worked hard to get here.”
Dan Nowak can be reached at email@example.com.