NEWINGTON – Three days after opening the 2021 season with a bang, the Newington boys volleyball team were beaten in three sets by Wethersfield on Thursday.
The three-time defending state champions never found their footing as the visitors took a tight first set, 28-26, then used that momentum to power through as Wethersfield won sets two and three by scores of 25-17 and 25-21, respectively.
“It was a frustrating day,” Nor’easters coach Curt Burns said. “I thought the key was that first set. It seemed like all the momentum went to their side and we just never recovered.”
Newington defeated Lewis Mills, 3-0, on Monday.
Wethersfield rolled out to a 7-3 start in the first set, but Newington tied it up at 13 shortly after. The rest of the set was back and forth until the Eagles scored two straight points late to go ahead 1-0.
“The errors, we committed 17 unforced errors in the first set, and still almost won it,” Burns said. “Then it continued over into the second and third. Give Wethersfield credit, they played well, they kept a lot of balls in play. We just didn’t have our termination game today.”
Wethersfield used a 6-2 run to take a 12-5 lead on the Nor’easters during the second set and they never looked back. Newington brought the deficit within four at 18-14, but another lengthy run from the Eagles put the hosts down 2-0.
“Too many errors, not enough communication,” Nor’easters senior Sean Stegmaier said. “We just have to come together, have fun, keep playing, and just play ball. Don’t let the errors get to you. Last match, I thought we limited the errors a lot, which was helpful.”
The third set was much of the same for Newington in this one as it fell behind early and couldn’t recover. Wethersfield led 6-3, 12-6 and 17-11 throughout the set until the Nor’easters got close late, coming back to make it 23-21.
However, a ball hit out of bounds and a mis-hit from Newington paved the way for Wethersfield to take the victory in the final set and the overall match.
“We’re practicing [to] make sure we got the sets right, the hits right, got the settings, limit the errors and we’ll be fine [Friday], Stegmaier said.
“We got to keep our heads up,” Stegmaier said. “We can’t let that get to us. We have to play the next set or the next point, get them back and build off of that.”
Stegmaier secured three kills in the loss while Jacob Baclawski had nine kills and 11 digs, Joshua Akosa tallied eight kills and six digs and Dennis Nguyen paced the Nor’easters with 17 assists.
Thursday’s loss marks the first time Newington has dropped a match in three sets since the 2016-17 season.
The Nor’easters have a quick turnaround with their next game Friday against Rockville, allowing them the opportunity to put this loss behind them quickly.
“We don’t really know that much about them,” Burns said. “They’re kind of joining the CCC East this season. We get to play a couple new teams, which is nice.”
Ryan Ames can be reached at 860-801-5094 or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.
Wethersfield 3, Newington 0
28-26, 25-17, 25-21
Highlights: Dennis Nguyen (N) 17 assists; Jacob Baclawski (N) 9 kills, 11 digs; Joshua Akosa (N) 8 kills, 6 digs; Sean Stegmaier (N) 3 kills.
Records: Wethersfield 2-1, Newington 1-1.