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New Britain - Ledyard High School had the match in control.
The Colonels had won the first two games of Thursday's CIAC Class L volleyball semifinal against Farmington. They had the size advantage. They were playing a cleaner game. Everyone at Chick Shea Gymnasium knew that Ledyard had the momentum.
Everyone but Farmington, that is.
The top-seeded Indians somehow found a way to seize the momentum and beat the Colonels in stunning fashion, 21-25, 22-25, 25-17, 25-20, 15-6.
"I think (momentum) means everything," Ledyard junior Michelle Klinikowski said. "I think we did (have the momentum), but I think we kind of let it slip and then when they got it, they took control of it."
The fourth-seeded Colonels finished 24-2.
"(Farmington) just stepped up their game," Ledyard coach Rich Duwelius said. "They were simply playing better. I don't think anything went wrong from our point of view. They started playing better. We weren't able to quite keep up."
Junior Jenny Nohara had 22 assists and two aces for the Colonels while Klinikowski had a match-high 14 kills. Senior Ari Fustini added seven kills and a block.
Junior Sophie Borg had 27 assists and eight kills for Farmington (24-1), which will play defending champion No. 2 RHAM in Saturday's final at Berlin (4 p.m.)
RHAM knocked off defending champion Bristol Eastern in five games in the other semifinal.
Ledyard didn't have to do too much offensively early in the match as the Indians handed it points, including 15 in the first game.
The Colonels won the second game and had leads of 3-0 and 6-3 in the third game.
The Indians finally had enough. Sophomore Laura Roman hit one of her 11 kills to force side-out and followed with an ace.
Two Ledyard errors and a Borg block gave Farmington an 8-6 edge they never relinquished. It led by as much as 17-11.
"With no momentum, we were still in Games 1 and 2," Indians coach Laura Arena said. "We were still in those games. … and we were playing mediocre at best. At best. So once they got into playing their level of play and their rhythm of play, big difference."
Duwelius said, "It's pretty common for a team to get behind 2-0. ….and when their backs are against the wall, they get more determined and they play better. It's normal. The third game is always hard after you win the first two. I expected them to come back and play better, and they did."
The Indians never trailed in the fourth game and led by as much as 18-9.
"We definitely made it a lot harder for ourselves than we needed it to be," Borg said. "We always say that energy and intensity is what's going to take us."
Klinikowski said, "I think we just started to shut down. We lost the energy."
Farmington used a four-point run to take a 6-2 lead in the final game.
Ledyard trailed 7-3 when Roman had to dig a pass over the net with her back to it.
The ball dropped behind the Colonels' defense for a point. Ball game.
"We just weren't ready for them to come out as strong as they did," Klinikowski said. "We played a great game, but they played a really great game, too."
The Colonels, who moved up to Class L after winning Class M last season, won the Eastern Connecticut Conference Large Division and conference championships this fall.
"Our season was fantastic," Klinikowski said. "I'm really proud of everybody on our team. Everybody did a wonderful job and improved so much. Even though it's the last game, it was still a great season all-around."