NEWINGTON - The Newington boys volleyball team is out to prove itâ€™s the lead contender to take the CCC Tournament title.
But fresh off a five-set win over rival Southington in the regular season finale Monday night, it look the Indians a little longer than they would have liked to secure a win Tuesday afternoon.
After each team took two sets in a row, Newington won the final set 15-12 to beat South Windsor 3-2 in the CCC quarterfinal at Rogalski Gymnasium.
â€śWhat this was a real test of our energy,â€ť Indians head coach Curt Burns said. â€śWe just came off a brutal five-set win [Monday] night, but it takes a lot out of you. You come off that and then 24 hours later you have to play again, thatâ€™s tough. I could see when we started out we had some good energy and we won quite handy but by the third, fourth, fifth set you could see that they were starting to get tired, but they were committed.â€ť
The other set scores were 25-15, 25-18, 23-25 and 14-25.
Newington jumped out to an early 12-4 lead in the first set after a run of six and never allowed the Bobcats to develop any momentum. South Windsor never had a run larger than three throughout that first game.
The Bobcats were more aggressive in the second set, constantly trailing the Indians by one.
But Newington began to pull away after a run of three to increase its lead to 16-12. South Windsor attempted to close to deficit and even pulled to within three at 20-17, but was never able to get much closer than that.
â€śIn the first two sets [our hitting was good],â€ť said Leonel Caceres, one of the Indians outside hitters. â€ś[Sets] three and four were a little iffy.â€ť
Caceres finished with 24 kills and 10 digs.
One of the key to winning those early sets was the play of libero Collin Liedke, who ended the afternoon with 22 digs.
â€śCollin was very strong with serve receive early on and even throughout the match,â€ť Burns said. â€śHe was good defensively and he had a good read on their hitters. Usually my two outside hitters, Louis [Egbuna] and Leonel they carry the bulk of our offense.â€ť
Egbuna had 15 kills, nine digs and two aces.
But South Windsor was determined to make it a match and made its push in the third set. Newington fell behind early and was never able to recover despite the set score being close in the end.
The Bobcats continued to build on their previous set win, opening up the fourth set with runs of four, three and two for an early 9-4 lead over the Indians. South Windsor pulled away after it was able to build a lead of 10 it wouldnâ€™t relinquish, finishing the set 25-14.
â€śEarly on we were pretty sharp in our attacks,â€ť Burns said. â€śWe were receiving and serving well but as the day wore on, [South Windsorâ€™s] serve got a lot stronger and then we started to suffer. We couldnâ€™t put balls down as we were earlier. Their defense picked up, their serving picked up and their big hitter [Maxwell Iacovelli] really started to stroll out.â€ť
The final set was another back-and-forth battle, with Newington never having a run of more than two points throughout. But fortunately for the Indians, they were the ones that came out on top.
â€śThis is only the beginning,â€ť Egbuna added. â€śWe want to go, back-to-back-to-back-to-back [wins before the state tournament].â€ť
With its win streak now up to 10, Newington will play in the CCC semifinals tonight.
â€śWeâ€™re not done yet,â€ť Evan Metzgar said.
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096 or firstname.lastname@example.org