NEW BRITAIN - With the fall season coming to an end, and league championships over it‚Äôs all eyes on the state title. The CIAC released the brackets for the state tournament which will begin yesterday.
Southington‚Äôs Nolyn Allen and Plainville‚Äôs Sergio Zaldivar both played pivotal roles in the success of their teams this past week. Allen did so in her libero role for the Blue Knights girl‚Äôs volleyball team, while Zaldivar‚Äôs goalkeeping abilities kept the Blue Devils boy‚Äôs soccer team from defeat.
Last Monday, Southington swept Platt (25-17, 25-16, 25-15) advancing them to the CCC title game. Allen, as leading libero proved to be a major factor in the Blue Knights victory. Allen finished the last two sets with 11 digs.
‚ÄúNolyn has anchored our defense and our serve reception the entire season,‚ÄĚ Southington head coach Richard Heitz said. ‚ÄúShe has been a rock for us and has made some incredible plays.‚Äú
Saturday, the Blue Knights faced off against the defending CCC Champions RHAM. The Sachems swept Southington 3-0, with sets scores of 25-8, 25-23 and 25-10.
Allen played as libero for all three sets in the final game. Overall she had 10 digs
‚ÄúWhen Nolyn makes a great play, it is just such an emotional momentum boost for all her teammates,‚ÄĚ Heitz said. ‚ÄúShe is truly fun to watch and I am certainly glad we have her on our side of the net.‚ÄĚ
In her senior season, Allen has collected a total of 405 digs, 20 aces and 4 kills.
‚ÄúThroughout games I like to think, this is going to be the best pass, she‚Äôs about to make the best set, it‚Äôs going to make an incredible hit,‚ÄĚ Allen said. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs fun to think like that because usually when you think positively, it happens.‚ÄĚ
With its 16-2 record, Southington earned the No. 2 seed, which has given them a first-round bye in the CIAC Class LL tournament. The Blue Knights will wait until Thursday to play their first tournament game and they will host the winner of the matchup between 15th-seeded Staples and 18th-seeded McMahon.
As for Plainville, it was the only team to qualify for the tournament in Class M. The Blue Devils are seeded 23rd with their 7-6-3 record and will travel to Seymour in the first round on Monday. The winner will then play the winner of the matchup between 7th-seeded Haddam-Killingworth and 26th-seeded Wolcott.
Last week, the Blue Devils walked away in a tie against Farmington, a team who has only lost a total of three games.
Plainville knew ahead of time that the game was not going to be easy. What helped the Blue Devils the most, Plainville head coach Tim Brown said was the defensive effort of goalkeeper Sergio Zaaldivar.
‚ÄúHe was absolutely fabulous [Tuesday],‚ÄĚ Brown said. ‚ÄúI asked him, ‚ÄėIs this a game where this can be your signature result for us?‚Äô That was our goal and I challenged him. He deserved this tonight; he does a lot of the dirty work. He saves games for us, he doesn‚Äôt just save balls, he saves games.‚ÄĚ
Zaldivar saved 14 shots on goal Tuesday afternoon.
‚ÄúAt first we all had the mentality that we were going to lose,‚ÄĚ Zaldivar said. ‚ÄúBut then we had some players that said, even if we lose we have to play with everything we have. The result showed the guys played really hard, and I‚Äôm proud of my team.‚ÄĚ