BERLIN - The Newington girls volleyball team had played the tougher schedule coming into its match against Berlin Thursday night and it showed.
From start to finish the Indians were the better team, winning in straight sets 25-14, 27-25, 25-20 (3-0) over the Redcoats at Berlin High School to qualify for the state tournament.
Maddie Massaro-Cook (3 blocks, 5 kills) and Carelys Benitez (25 digs) led Newington in the match.
“This team was at the same level as us so it was really good to be able to try our plays,” Newington senior Anya Bass said. “When it’s harder teams like Southington we have to really be focused and stick to what we know and we execute the best we can. But when it’s teams that were more at the same level, we’re able to try new things and try new plays.”
In the third set, the Indians held big leads of seven points and 11 points but Berlin didn’t give up as the Redcoats brought the 7-point lead within two and stormed back to go down 23-20 in the third set.
Coming back is nothing new for Berlin but against a team like the Indians, it wasn’t going to work out.
“We definitely always dig ourselves a hole in the beginning and then towards the middle of the game and then end up coming back and winning at the end of the game,” Berlin’s Bella Nardi said. “So I guess this one was maybe kind of like a shock to us. We thought we could get out of the hole and we didn’t.”
Nardi led the Redcoats with six aces and 14 digs. Her serving was also impressive throughout the three sets.
“The serves at that point were going really well,” Nardi said. “But when it came to serve/receive we weren’t getting all their serves over because the passes were lacking in that department to get it to the hitters in order to get our own kills. When we had a strong server is when we got on the runs.”
Newington benefited from not beating itself throughout the match, something the Redcoats didn’t do making unforced errors and having communication issues.
“The thing we did really well offensively today was very few unforced errors,” Newington head coach Chris Wanner said. “And I think if we combine our typical serving with reduced unforced errors offensively and our defense I think we can really step up.”
With the loss, Berlin fell to 9-6 and has lost two straight matches 3-0.
“I definitely think that these last two matches put us back a little bit,” the Redcoats’ Michelle Matug said. “We were expecting to play a tougher team, but I thought we would definitely win so it’s kind of a setback.”
With the win Newington moved to 8-5.
“We’re almost where we want to be at,” Wanner said. “Tonight I was pleased with the performance and definitely the amount of unforced errors that we limited.”