But no. She had gone over the net. The Sachems had to settle down and reset.
“We just got back on the court,” Smolinski said. “We knew we had to finish it. I told Ellie [Linden], our setter, ‘Set the ball to Kelly [Stratton], she needs this last point’ and she did it.”
Stratton, RHAM’s lone senior, made the kill that won the match 3-0 (25-18, 25-18, 25-15) over Jonathan Law-Milford at Newigton High.
“We knew we could do it one more time,” Stratton said.
It was RHAM’s second consecutive state title but its first undefeated season (24-0) and it was accomplished with a group of underclassmen.
“I told the girls, ‘You know, I will never forget my first state title, but I will never, ever forget an undefeated season with a state title,’” coach Tim Guernsey said. “That’s just something we’ve never done before. It’s not done that often. Coventry did it. It’s an unbelievable feeling.
“It was very fitting for Kelly to get the last kill.”
The Sachems lost five starters and six seniors from last year’s 23-1 team. Many were in the crowd Friday night, cheering on their former teammates.
Smolinski, who was named MVP, had 14 kills and 10 digs. Junior Kelsey Welling had eight kills and six blocks. Junior Mallory Grosso had 11 digs and Linden had 34 assists.
Law junior Casey Dulin had 16 kills and eight digs. Senior Megan Sweeney had 15 digs and Kathleen Sweeney, also a senior, had 13 digs and five kills.
RHAM started off better than it did in the semifinals, when it lost its first game to Griswold but went on to win, 3-1. Friday, Smolinski served the first nine points before Law scored.
“The girls were very geared up,” Guernsey said. “They were ready to go at 5 but we weren’t leaving until 5:45. They wanted to get here.
“They did just a phenomenal job.”