NEW BRITAIN - The members of the New Britain girls volleyball team are still trying to learn about their new teammates.
It showed at times Monday night against Avon. A disastrous first set put the Hurricanes in a hole early and although they battled back throughout the night, were unable to get out of it and before ultimately being swept by the Falcons.
“It’s only our third game and these girls have never played together,” New Britain head coach Michelle Abraham said. “We have new girls on the court. I graduated four seniors last year so the chemistry is completely different, but they’re a close knit team and they feed off each other.”
The difference in experience between the two teams was evident in the first set as Avon cruised to a 25-6 win. New Britain players often seemed unsure of where to move after the ball was served, which led to multiple serve aces for Avon’s Wren Worth and many other points ending with the ball landing in between various Hurricanes players with no one attempting to make a play on it. The second and third sets did not look like the first, but New Britain’s lack of familiarity with each was the difference maker between the two teams.
“I don't know what went wrong in the first set,” Hurricanes senior Audrey Belliveau said. “Our heads weren’t in the game and then once you get down by a lot it's really hard to get out of that. Coming off of the court from the first game we knew we could do better.”
The Hurricanes fixed many of their mistakes in the second set and nearly came away with the long set over the Falcons, but were unable to win the consecutive points necessary at the end. New Britain came back from trailing by six (10-4) in the set to going on an 18-7 run to lead 22-17.
“Everyone was pulling their weight and even if someone made a mistake we tried to pick each other up,” Belliveau said. “Once we get on a roll, we stay on a roll with our team.”
Avon chipped its way back by cutting the lead 22-19, and then tied the set at 23 after losing serve and getting right back. From there, the Hurricanes struggled to secure the two-point lead necessary to win the set and eventually lost 28-26.
“They started listening and they adjusted and we started defending Avon a lot better,” Abraham said. “My team is scrappy, they’re going to save some balls. We may not get the big kills like some experienced teams, but they’re going to fight to the very end to keep the ball in play.”
New Britain refused to quit in the third set despite trailing early. Avon had a 16-10 lead, which the Hurricanes were able to close to as close as 18-16. The challenge was too great to overcome at that point and Avon pulled off the 25-18 win.
Karoina Gierra finished with seven kills for the Hurricanes while Belliveau had 13 assists.
New Britain’s next match comes Thursday when it goes on the road to face Farmington at 5 p.m.
Matt Hornick can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org
AVON 3, NEW BRITAIN 0
(25-6, 28-26, 25-18)
At New Britain
Highlights: Karolina Gierra (NB) 7 kills; Audrey Belliveau (NB) 13 Assists; Skyler Blackinton (A) 11 kills, 8 digs.
Records: New Britain 1-2, Avon 2-1.