Newington boys volleyball gets revenge on Southington two days after loss

Published on Wednesday, 26 May 2021 22:03
Written by RYAN AMES


SOUTHINGTON ­- Two days after the first meeting of the season between the two squads, Newington boys volleyball got revenge on Southington, beating the Blue Knights on their home court, 3-1 on Wednesday.

Southington took the first match, 3-1 on Monday, but struggled after winning the first set Wednesday, 25-22.

The Nor'easters stormed back and took the next three games, to finish the regular season as the Central Connecticut Conference West champions.

"I tried to tell them to do some different things at the service line," Newington coach Curt Burns said on adjustments made after the first set. "We even brought in a serving sub, which worked a little bit, but just give them different looks. They're a very good passing team, very good defensive team, we had to give them some different looks to see if we could get them off their balance there and I thought it worked."

The Blue Knights held a sizeable lead through the early goings of the second set, however the visitors chipped away until eventually winning the game, 25-22.

The Nor'easters' defensive output improved during that second frame, led by senior Sean Stegmaier.

"Sean was really strong today," Burns said. "He did a lot of work this week with connecting with our setter, Eni Lici, gave them some extra reps together. Before we came on the bus ride here, they stopped in the gym and they set up the net like they did for practice.

"Sean is committed, Sean's been a great, great player for us this year," Burns said. "For a guy that was a call-up two years ago, now he's a real solid player."

Stegmaier secured a team-high 16 kills for Newington, while Jacob Baclawski was next with 15.

Lici led the Nor'easters with 41 assists, and also finished with 12 digs, while Vietanh Dinh concluded with 21 digs and Joshua Akosa accrued 20 digs.

Newington went on to win the third set, 25-19, and the final frame, 25-21, to conclude the season 17-2.

The victory halts the Blue Knights' 16-game win streak, who hadn't lost since their season opener against Conard.

"Sometimes when you play a team the second time... first time not knowing what to expect, you never know going into a first game," Southington coach Lou Gianacopolos said. "That was home for them, that was their senior night, we went in and I don't know if the hunger was not as much [as usual]. Were they happy with the one win, like 'oh, we can beat Newington.' Did they only prepare 97 percent instead of 110 percent?

"Then there might have been a little bit of doubt, but I think overall it was down to ball control and body language," Gianacopolos said. "We just didn't seem like we were firing on all cylinders."

Connor McInnis paced the Blue Knights bashing 13 kills, with Devin Larrabee right behind with 11 of his own, while Mitchell Messina compiled 26 assists to lead Southington.

Four different Blue Knights players reached the double-digit mark in digs, as McInnis had 21, Messina posted 15 and Larrabee and Matthew Morgan picked up 11 apiece.

The loss drops Southington to 16-2 in its regular season finale.

Both teams will have short rest as the conference tournament begins on Thursday, with both Newington and Southington hosting quarterfinal matchups.

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

Posted in New Britain Herald, Newington, Southington on Wednesday, 26 May 2021 22:03. Updated: Wednesday, 26 May 2021 22:05.