Welcome to the 2015 Season

RHAM secures Class M crown


By RICH ZALUSKY
Chronicle Sports Writer

NEWINGTON — It was hard not to notice the calm look on the face of RHAM High girls volleyball coach Tim Guernsey when calm wasn’t the word of choice to describe what was happening right in front of him.
RHAM had just completed wrapping up its second consecutive CIAC Class M state championship Friday night with a 25- 18, 25- 18, 25- 15 victory over Jonathan Law of Milford at Newington High School’s Richard E. Rogalski Gymnasium.
And with the RHAM faithful storming the floor to join in the celebration with the team, Guernsey rose from his chair, walked past the empty chairs on the bench and grabbed a cup of water.
Even though his emotions may not have shown it, Guernsey was overwhelmed with the fact that the program’s second state championship came during an undefeated season. “I told the girls that I’ll never forget the first state championship but I’ll never forget an undefeated season with a state title,” Guernsey said.
“It’s something that’s not done very often. It’s just an unbelievable feeling. I’m just so happy and proud of what these girls have accomplished.”
There were no slow starts for RHAM (24-0) on this night.
The Sachems seized control quickly as junior Tessa Smolinski, who was named the tournament’s most valuable player with 14 kills, served up three aces while Chelsea Fenton had three kills in building a 9- 0 lead in Game 1.
“We were so excited all day,” RHAM junior setter Ellie Linden said.
“The hardest part was getting to the finals. We knew tonight all we had to do was have fun and play the way we know how to do.”
And with Linden (34 assists) having one of her best nights of the year while setting the ball to numerous versatile weapons — Smolinski, Jocelyn Taylor, Kelsey Welling and Stratton — it was going to take a whole lot for the 11th-seeded Lawmen to win on this evening.
“Ellie is the type of kid that puts a lot of pressure on herself,” Guernsey said. “She gets a little nervous when she doesn’t get an opportunity to set before the game. She was phenomenal and did a fantastic job.”
Another ingredient to RHAM’s success is the fact that on defense, the Sachems never want to let a ball hit the floor at any cost.
That hard work on defense was personified in Game 3 with RHAM holding a 19-10 lead.
Linden and Smolinski kept their eyes fixated on a ball that was smashed by Jonathan Law junior outside hitter Casey Dulin, went off a block, rose high into the air and bounced back and forth several times among the light fixtures hanging from the ceiling.
Linden saved it, Jocelyn Taylor sent it back over the net and RHAM would finish off the point with a kill from Fenton.
And on match point, it proved fitting that the lone senior on the roster, Stratton, won it by sending the final set by Linden into the floor.
“ Kelly has been the most improved player throughout the entire program,” Guernsey said. “When she was a freshman she looked timid and every time she did something good she looked surprised by it.
“Now look at her. The final point, it was one of those things that was just meant to be for her.”
For Stratton, the moment of finishing off her career with a hand in closing things out was priceless.
“I just didn’t think when I hit it,” Stratton said.
“I can’t tell you what was going through my mind. It was just perfect.”

Updated: July 27, 2009 — 9:48 pm

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