Waterford sweeps Fitch to win ECC D-I volleyball tournament

Norwich — The Waterford volleyball team has given head coach Matt Maynard a daunting challenge — find something, anything, to grouse about their play.

The Lancers are playing their best ball of the season at the moment. They played their best match of the season at the Eastern Connecticut Conference Division I tournament final on Thursday night, one night after setting their personal best in the semifinals.

Tournament MVP Ryleigh Gonyo had a match-high 24 kills as Waterford swept Fitch 25-14, 25-20, 26-24 for their first ECC tournament title.

“I have nothing to yell at them (Friday) about (at practice),” Lancers head coach Matt Maynard said with a grin.

Third-seeded Waterford (17-5), in successive days, took down second-seeded and CIAC Class S powerhouse Lyman Memorial in four games, and fifth-seeded Fitch, which had swept the league’s best regular season team, top-seeded Woodstock Academy, in the semifinals.

“We used the momentum from (Wednesday), and we just brought it right in,” Gonyo said. “We carried it throughout the school day. We carried it into here. And we went and did the same thing as last night — a ball didn’t drop without a person hitting the floor. We played 100 percent every point.”

Told that Gonyo thought playing in successive nights helped them, Maynard said, “Oh, God, maybe for them. Fitch has a great squad. I would’ve loved to have game-planned for them a couple of days.”

Sabrina Kobyluck had 35 assists, Rachel Miller had eight kills, seven digs and three aces, and Angela Colonis had 13 digs for Waterford.

Karly Morales had 30 assists and Nora Ryan had 21 kills for the Falcons (16-6), who had won nine in a row. That included a four-game win over Guilford, the top seed and finalist in the Southern Connecticut Conference tournament, and a sweep of ECC Division II champion Griswold.

“We came out flat, (Waterford) came out on fire,” Fitch head coach Steve Banks said. “It took us too long for us to finally get our stride. The middle of Game 3, we finally started to play like we were capable of.

“You’ve got to give (the Lancers) all the credit in the world. They played better from start to finish and we started too slow. They got the ball to the setter and that was the difference. ... Every time we got a good pass up to the front, they couldn’t stop Nora, but they were few and far between. They were more consistent with their receive and that was the difference.”

The teams were tied at 21, 22, 23 and 24 in Game 3. Fitch had the serve when Colonis passed to Kobyluck, who set up Gonyo for a kill and match point.

Kobyluck scored match point when she killed a ball that Fitch passed too close to the net.

“We’ve turned the corner,” Maynard said. “It’s no longer, ‘live another day.’ It’s ‘win or you're out.’ So, we’ve taken that mantra into our practices. We’ve taken it into every little aspect, every little detail. That’s the different you’re seeing.”

• Tournament MVP Hanna Clark led top-seeded Griswold to a 25-10, 25-15, 25-22 win over No. 6 Plainfield in the ECC Division II tournament final. The Wolverines (16-6) beat the Panthers (11-10) for the third time this season.

n.griffen@theday.com

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