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After splitting a pair of five-game matches during the regular season, the Newtown and Joel Barlow of Redding high school girls’ volleyball teams didn’t disappoint in providing another thriller in the November 3 South-West Conference championship match.
Top-seeded Barlow came out on top in the biggest battle of the season between the familiar foes, 3-2 (25-22, 14-25, 25-14, 21-25, 15-13) at neutral site Pomperaug of Southbury, in front of a packed gymnasium of loud and enthusiastic fans.
They had a lot to cheer about as both teams dug balls seemingly destined for the floor, nailed serves for aces, and smashed hits that stole the other side’s momentum, only to have it shift back .. and then forth.
“We gave it everything we had. It was a lot of fun to be a part of,” Newtown Coach Tom Czaplinski said. “In the fourth and fifth sets we never gave up one time.”
With their backs against the wall, the Nighthawks forced the fifth and deciding game when a Zoe Beals kill was deflected out of bounds.
Sarah Dowling’s cross-court kill, followed by Tess Mubarek’s service ace, gave Newtown a 20-13 lead in the fourth game.
The Falcons chipped away to pull to within three before a Barlow hit out of bounds brought things to game point.
In the fifth game, Newtown jumped out to a 3-0 lead. Barlow came back and seized its first lead at 6-5 before Dowling’s spike knotted the score. The Falcons got the next three points, but the Hawks fought.
Rachel O’Grady’s ace and a smash by Beals which followed a timely block by Erin Mitchell, sandwiched a kill by Barlow’s Ava Campano, bringing the score to 10-9 Falcons.
Kills by Beals and Julia Anderson answered Barlow points, and an Erin Burns block at the net for a point finally got the score back to even —12-12.
A Newtown service error made it 13-12 Falcons. Dowling’s hit brought about the sixth tie of the game, but Barlow’s Campano got the last two kills, the first of which came following a strong Mubarek defensive effort, and the match-clinching point coming despite a Newtown partial block. The match ended when the ball sailed over the net, onto Barlow’s side of the court but landed inches out of bounds.
Newtown, after dropping a hard-fought first game, showed this stood to be a long match with a nice rebound performance in game two.
A Beals ace capped a 4-0 run for a 7-3 lead, and the Hawks never looked back. Mitchell piled up block after block and, along with Dowling, Beals, and Anderson, had kills to help open up a big lead on the way to a decisive 25-14 win.
Barlow built a 10-3 advantage in game three and answered with a 25-14 triumph of its own.
Throughout the match, Newtown setter Kim Buttery set up her teammates and made strong defensive plays; and Beals, Dowling, and Anderson, made it difficult on the Falcons with their hard hits.
Buttery finished with 45 assists to go along with six digs, two aces, two kills, and a pair of blocks. Beals registered 14 kills, eight digs, and four aces; Dowling had 13 kills, and a trio of digs; Mitchell logged eight kills and five blocks; Anderson had six kills and a block; Mubarek had ten digs and three aces; and O’Grady had six digs and an ace. Jackie Moccio recorded five digs; Burns had two kills and two blocks; and Mollie Goudy also contributed with some solid plays.
Newtown gets back to action in the Class LL state tournament, beginning Monday, November 6.