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That didn’t take long.
Newtown High School’s boys’ volleyball team locked up a Class L state tournament berth with its eighth win in as many matches to start the season.
Not even four campaigns into its program history, with expectations to build off of last season’s 8-10 mark — then the high-water mark for wins by the Nighthawks — this group may be exceeding even its own expectations.
The Nighthawks got their eighth win in a 3-0 triumph at Daniel Hand of Madison on April 20, sealing a state playoff berth, then bested host Masuk of Monroe in a five-game battle on April 23 to improve to 9-0.
“Unbelievable. I’m ecstatic for them,” Newtown Coach Sandy Doski said. “They work hard, they play hard together, they encourage each other. That’s what makes a winning team. We’re all on the same page. It’s fun to coach them.”
Doski said emphasis is put on taking each match at a time, and focusing on each game within a match, being mentally tough by not focusing on miscues and bad breaks, as well as putting forth defensive play in each match.
With all of this success, it might be hard for the Nighthawks not to look ahead to a possible South-West Conference title match (the top two teams among the small five-squad conference) meet in the pinnacle match, or potential state tourney run.
“I remind them that we can’t get ahead of ourselves,” Doski said after Newtown defeated visiting Shelton 3-0 (25-22, 25-14, 25-16) on April 19.
Shelton jumped out to an early lead in the first game before the Nighthawks pulled out a game-one win and rolled in games two and three.
“They hung in there, they didn’t hang their heads. They just chipped away, chipped away,” said Doski, adding that the resilience is a good sign. “That’s really going to help us down the road.”
Against Shelton, Newtown was led by Ardi Kodzodzuku with 14 digs, 15 kills, a trio of service points and two aces. Eric Moore added 17 digs, two kills, 14 assists and eight service points along with one ace. Silas Decker came up with five kills, two digs, 16 service points and five aces.
Doski and the Hawks got plenty of praise from Shelton Coach LeAnne Bianchine.
“Their coach is fantastic. When you’re coached by someone who is top notch you have no other option but to become top notch,” Bianchine said.
Newtown beat Hand by scores of 25-11, 25-14, and 25-17. Kodzodziku compiled 14 kills and six digs; Moore logged two kills, seven digs, four aces, and 22 assists; and Decker registered five kills, one block, and one dig.
Against Masuk, the Hawks prevailed 3-2 (23-25, 25-10, 27-25, 22-25, and 15-10). The Panthers, who fell 3-0 to Newtown earlier this campaign, fell to 5-6.
Kodzodziku accumulated 21 digs, 23 kills, and a trio of aces; Moore had 23 digs, 33 assists, one block, and two aces; Robbie Morrill recorded eight digs, 19 kills, and a pair of aces; Liam Jones piled up 17 digs, 20 assists, and on ace; and Decker racked up 15 kills to go along with two blocks, and one ace.
“They are coming along. I can’t express how happy I am for them,” Doski said. “They’re playing as a unit, they’re talking out there, and things are happening for them.”
Doski added that the Hawks are focusing on their play, and not the efforts of the team across the net.
“That’s what’s going to propel us to go far this year and I think they’re buying into it,” the coach added.