Woodstock defends ECC Division I volleyball title against East Lyme, remains unbeaten
Norwich — East Lyme tried to do a little bit too much Wednesday against the best team in the state. Coach Jack Biggs was OK with that.
"They weren't playing safe," Biggs said. "I can live with that."
Top-seeded Woodstock Academy remained unbeaten with a 25-15, 25-14, 25-8 victory over No. 2 East Lyme for the Eastern Connecticut Conference Division I volleyball tournament championship played at Norwich Free Academy.
Woodstock (21-0) defended its title with coach Adam Bottone attributing the sweep to the Centaurs' defense. Libero Maddy Gronski, with 19 digs, was named MVP. Woodstock accentuated that, however, with the dynamic offense of junior Paula Hernandez Aulet, with 16 kills and 20 digs, a high-percentage service game and an overall meticulousness that resulted in near perfection.
It left Bottone grinning, unlike an ECC semifinal win earlier in the week in which he felt like Woodstock couldn't get past Fitch's defense with enough regularity.
"Our defense is what actually won it for us," Bottone said. "Serving, we had nice runs by Bekah Wesler and a run by Paula in the third set, but our defense was phenomenal tonight. We've been on the other end of that, where you think it's a short point for you and they get it back."
"They put a lot of pressure on us and we put a lot of pressure on ourself," said Biggs, whose team is 18-4 headed to next week's Class L state tournament (the same classification as Woodstock). "That was a clinic that they put on tonight. ... I loved our vibe, I loved everything going on the first two sets. Then it was a mindset for us."
East Lyme lost to Woodstock twice during the regular season, 3-2 on Sept. 7 and 3-0 on Oct. 18.
The Vikings started off even with Woodstock on Wednesday, tied at 7-7, and East Lyme pulled within 16-13 when Sophie Dubreuil passed to Sydney Iannantuono for a kill cross-court from left to right. But Woodstock's Natalie Low (15 kills) responded with a kill and East Lyme proceeded to make four straight errors surrounding a Biggs timeout to surrender the momentum.
Then Hernandez Aulet got into a groove. She wound up and pounded a ball for a kill and an East Lyme error gave the Centaurs a 4-1 lead to start Game 2. East Lyme once again tied things 7-7, but Low turned the tide one more time and Gronski later served out the game.
In Game 3, Hernandez Aulet's service game resulted in the Centaurs' lead ballooning from 13-6 to 20-6, as she fired her serves without much chance of returning them.
"They have great servers," Biggs said. "They'll serve you off the court. You can't do anything unless you can pass a serve. I wish we played better but they were a big reason why we didn't."
Iannantuono had 12 kills and 10 digs and Dubreuil 14 digs for East Lyme, which reached the final with a 3-2 semifinal victory Monday over Waterford.
"I just feel we made all little mistakes," Dubreuil said. "Our seniors played great. We did good as a unit. We just got in our heads a lot. We got frustrated at some point."
In the Division II championship game, also at NFA, No. 1 Lyman Memorial defeated No. 3 Plainfield 25-16, 25-16, 18-25, 25-22. Outside hitter Helen Megson was named MVP for Lyman, which also succcesfully defended its title.
2018 ECC VOLLEYBALL AWARD WINNERS
Following is a list of Eastern Connecticut Conference field hockey all-stars, sportsmanship and scholar-athlete award winners:
First team — Paula Hernandez (Woodstock), Sydney Iannantuono (East Lyme), Natalie Low (Woodstock), Maddie Gronski (Woodstock), Nora Ryan (Fitch), Eliana Jewell (NFA), Mya Delesdernier (East Lyme).
Honorable mention — Sammie Orlowski (Woodstock), Sophie Dubreuil (East Lyme), Kamryn Ebersole (East Lyme).
Sportsmanship award — Brooke Gottschall (NFA), Lauren Davison (Fitch), Katie Papp (Woodstock), Ava Sheehan (East Lyme).
Scholar-athlete — Eliana Jewell (NFA), Olivia Carney (Fitch), Bekah Wesler (Woodstock), Katie Solinsky (East Lyme).
First team — Gretchen Dusza (Waterford), Jenny Keth (Waterford), Olivia Pacheco (Waterford), Katie Krupansky (Ledyard), Maylyn Haydash (Ledyard), Alexis Smelser (Bacon), Kelsey Allen (Killingly).
Honorable mention — Ryleigh Conyo (Waterford), Miranda Chesnut (Ledyard), Trinity Angel (Killingly).
Sportsmanship award — Prachi Patel (Killingly), Bridget Anderson (Bacon), Morgan Riewerts (Ledyard), Neveah McKinney (Waterford).
Scholar-athlete — Prachi Patel (Killingly), Abby Gustavsen (Bacon), Sarah Moynihan (Ledyard), Ellie Lokken (Waterford).
First team — Abby Diamantini (Montville), Mackenzie Ullrich (Montville), Madison Kelley (Plainfield), Liz LoPorto (Plainfield), Meredith Brown (Griswold), Helen Megson (Lyman Memorial), Anna Mathewson (Lyman Memorial).
Honorable mention — Olivia Bessette (Plainfield), Sarah Aviles (Griswold), Indigo Hevner (Lyman Memorial).
Sportsmanship award — Nia Muckenthaler (Montville), Chloe Joslyn (Plainfield), Keyana Rubino (Griswold), Katina Nanos (Lyman Memorial).
Scholar-athlete — Savanna Perkins (Montville), Grace Fisher (Plainfield), Merideth Brown (Griswold), Amy Matson (Lyman Memorial).
First team — Sarah Spracklin (Wheeler), Kaitlin Zamora (Putnam), Marissa Parker (New London), Madison Vargas (Windham), Savannah Galluci (Wheeler), Caylee Parker (New London), Cynthia Gonzalez (Windham).
Honorable mention — Molly McKeon (Putnam), Adriana Santos (Putnam), Adrian Vellon Jimenez (Windham).
Sportsmanship award — Sadie Hill (Wheeler), Natalia Paul (New London), Samantha Hinckley (Windham), Mya Meadows (Putnam).
Scholar-athlete — Valerie Knowles (Wheeler), Shannon Huang (New London), Alli Vining (Windham), Molly McKeon (Putnam).
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