BRISTOL - Goodwin Tech was a different team in the fourth set after struggling through the first three sets.
After getting out to a 17-9 lead, the Gladiators held on to beat Vinal Tech 3-1 at home on Wednesday with scores of 25-17, 25-18, 21-25 and 25-15.
Tanija Russell’s serve was strong and the fourth set started out with her serving for Goodwin Tech.
“Tanija served well throughout the match,” Goodwin Tech head coach Paul Soucy said. “She was our best server. When we serve well like that, we play well.”
Russell won five straight service points to give her team the early advantage in the fourth.
She finished with eight aces and four kills.
“We work serving a lot in practice so that so that we can get it over the net and get points,” Russell said.
Leina Rivera also served well, specifically in the fourth set. She won four service points in the set and finished with eight aces as well. Rivera also was a force at the net and spotting the ball with 10 kills in the match.
“I feel like we did good with our kills in the match,” Rivera said.
While the fourth set was impressive, the first three sets provided the Gladiators with a learning experience, as Vinal Tech was just 2-5 coming into the match.
“We played down a level throughout the match until the fourth set,” Soucy said. “The last few games we played teams with not good records and we just haven’t played and we tried to emphasize that we have to step it up.”
In the first set Goodwin Tech got off to a strong start with a 6-1 lead. However, the Gladiators let Vinal Tech back into the set within two points at 11-9.
After Russell won two service points, Goodwin Tech got the ball back after winning the point on Riley McConnell’s service. Tiana Rodriguez took over and won three straight points to give the Gladiators a more comfortable 17-12 lead.
Joarielys Pino won four consecutive points later in the first set and the Gladiators took the set.
The second and third sets were more competitive. Goodwin Tech struggled with communication and didn’t get off to the quick starts that helped it win the first and fourth sets.
In the second, Rodriguez did the best to keep the Gladiators in winning seven service points and getting her team out to a 18-13 lead.
Later on Vinal Tech had a brief comeback but Teresa Lopez made sure that Goodwin Tech would win as she won five straight points and had an ace to close out the set for the Gladiators.
The third set was where the learning experience came into play.
Up two sets and looking to get out with an easy win, Vinal Tech got out to a 14-9 lead behind strong service from Izzy Hernandez.
The Gladiators showed their fight though getting back even at 18-18 in the set.
While the comeback in the set was impressive, not letting off is something that Goodwin Tech learned they can’t do as Hope Pagano won two straight service points to win the set for Vinal Tech 25-21.
“Our second half of our schedule is much tougher,” Soucy said. “They need to start playing more consistent.”
Dan Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811 or email@example.com On Twitter: @OrencoleDan