NEWINGTON — Even when the laws of physics appeared to be on the side of Law girls volleyball Friday night, fate fell squarely on the side of top-seeded RHAM in the Class M championship match.
RHAM was already on the way to defending its championship with a 3-0 (25-18, 25-18, 25-15) victory at Newington. The Sachems led 19-10 in the third game. Law appeared to have gained a point back when a hit went off a Sachems defender, up into the rafters, off the ceiling, off the basketball-hoop stanchion, off the top of the backboard.
RHAM collected it calmly and won the point.
What else was new? Every attack the 11th-seeded Eagles presented, every way the Eagles defended, the Sachems had an answer. That’s probably why they went 24-0.
Law (19-6) did itself no favors early, though, falling behind 9-0 in the first game before scraping its way back. The Eagles didn’t hold a lead until the beginning of Game 3 and finished as runners-up for the fourth time in six years.
“I don’t think we were ready,” Nantel said. “I really thought we’d beat them. I really thought we could. “¦ We need to fight, to fight for points.”
The Eagles made a few errors, both hitting and serve-receive, in that first game. But even when they set up Casey Dulin (16 kills, eight digs) on the left side, the Sachems were usually there for a dig.
“There might have been some nerves. That’s to be expected in a big match,” Law coach Stacy Loch said. “I don’t know if anybody really expected us to get here.”
Tournament MVP Tessa Smolinski had 10 digs in the match to go with 14 kills. Mallory Grosso, the Sachems’ libero, had 11 digs, and Chelsea Fenton had eight.
“We passed the ball very, very well defensively,” RHAM coach Tim Guernsey said. “We never gave up on any ball.”
Law’s Megan Sweeney had 15 digs, and Kathleen Sweeney had 13 digs.
Loch said the Eagles tended to have a rough first game; Guernsey had told reporters the same thing about his team after the semifinals.In that semifinal round, Law got here with a hard-fought win Wednesday against Sacred Heart Academy.
That left little time to get a handle on the Sachems.
“Game, one practice, game: We weren’t fully prepared,” Loch said.
But Nantel, who had 29 assists, was more frustrated with her team’s mental approach.
“We weren’t as up as we were (against Sacred Heart Academy),” Nantel said.
RHAM built its lead more slowly in the second game, with the same result.
Loch said her team was called for more net violations than she could remember in other matches, and a few helped keep momentum on the Sachems’ side.
The teams were tied four times in the third game, up to 7-7, before the Sachems took over.
“I’ve got to give it to them,” Nantel said. “They’re good.”
Class M championship
LAW 18 18 15–0
RHAM 25 25 25–3
Records: Law 19-6; RHAM 24-0