Southington girls volleyball can't maintain strong start in Class LL quarterfinal loss at Cheshire

Published on Saturday, 13 November 2021 21:26
Written by Ryan Ames


CHESHIRE – The Southington girls volleyball team’s season came to an end Saturday after falling to top-seeded Cheshire, 3-1, during the quarterfinal round of the Class LL state tournament.

The eighth-seeded Blue Knights won the first set, 25-15, but the Rams raced back to take the next three games by scores of 25-19, 25-19 and 25-22 to bring Southington’s final record to 16-5.

“We knew it was going to be a challenge,” Blue Knights coach Rich Heitz said. “We started three sophomores and a freshman. In a game like this, our ball control wasn’t as strong as it needed to be throughout the night. We made some youthful mistakes and some errors, which you can’t do against a good team. The team that played better won tonight, but we’re going to learn from it. It’s been a great experience just being with these kids in the gym each day.”

Southington came out of the gates flying as it never allowed Cheshire to get comfortable in that first set. However, the Blue Knights started to lose its flow in the second game and once the Rams took the lead, they went to work.

Serve-receive seemed to be an issue for Southington following the first game and Cheshire took advantage. The Blue Knights finished the match with nine receiving errors.

“Our ball control wasn’t as sharp,” Heitz said. “You can’t give them free balls. We put them right in the system and then we paid the price for that.”

Following wins in games two and three, Cheshire began the fourth set on a 5-0 run while Southington looked out of sorts. A timeout from Heitz settled the Blue Knights down and they eventually tied the match at 16 and went ahead late, but the Rams battled back with an impressive attack to take the victory.

“You feel the wheels are coming off the wagon, you’re just trying to stop it,” Heitz said on calling the timeout. “A couple times after we called a timeout, they missed a serve right after. Sometimes you use them earlier than you’d rather use them, but you don’t want the score to get out of hand.

“They easily could’ve packed it in there,” Heitz said on the fourth-set deficit. “We came back and then we made some youthful forced errors when it got close there.”

Gabby Ferreira guided Southington in this one with a team-high 11 kills, while the sophomore also finished with 12 digs and five service points. Alyssa Ferreira (15 service points, 20 digs, nine kills), Haley Weiner (33 assists) and Morgan Birdsey (six kills, five digs) played well for the Blue Knights in the defeat too. Birdsey was also the only senior on this year’s team as the rest of the squad will get another crack at it in 2022.

Despite the loss, Southington was one of four teams that won a set against Cheshire all season long, with the other three being Guilford, Amity and Farmington.

The Rams will move on to play No. 12 Fairfield Ludlowe in the semifinals while the Blue Knights were stopped ahead of the final four for the second time in the past four seasons.

Ryan Ames can be reached at 860-801-5094 or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.

Posted in New Britain Herald, Southington on Saturday, 13 November 2021 21:26. Updated: Saturday, 13 November 2021 21:29.