No. 1 Griswold falls achingly short in Class S volleyball semis
New London – Jamie Bruno was tending to logistics after this long night’s journey – making sure his stats were in order and the bench was clean – as several well-wishers kept repeating the words, “great season, great season” to him as they passed by.
But the forlorn look on Bruno’s face – and faces of his players – told the story of an evening’s anguish.
Non-negotiable fact about high school sports: There is no short series. There is one game, one night, one chance to advance. And Griswold High School fell achingly short Tuesday night at Conway Gym.
The Wolverines, the top seed in Class S, were denied a chance to play for a championship, losing to No. 4 East Hampton 3-2, in two hours, 13 minutes. The Bellringers won 25-15, 24-26, 25-27, 25-22, 15-6.
“We knew East Hampton was really good. A strong middle,” Bruno said. “They played well. We were a little too inconsistent.”
Griswold, which went undefeated throughout the regular season, had leads of 12-7 and 16-12 in the fourth set, coming agonizingly close to a trip to East Haven High in Saturday’s state finals.
“After we had the lead we weren’t as aggressive,” Bruno said of the fourth set. We let them come back.”
East Hampton junior Chelsea Woods kept serve in the fifth set until her team sprinted to a 6-0 lead.
It was the final match in the careers of Griswold seniors Kuranda Ruggiero, Emily Aviles, Kaitlyn Fasula, Makalya Nelson and Katelyn Pasieka.
“We experienced a lot of different things this year,” Bruno said. “Going undefeated through the regular season was hard. We’re usually the underdog. It was definitely a different position.”
But the Wolverines return several quality players next year, including sophomore Abby Matheson, who captured the attention of the gym several times Tuesday with authoritative kills.
Griswold lost to Fitch in the conference tournament semifinals but rebounded to dethrone three-time defending state champion Lyman Memorial in the state quarterfinals.
“It was a great season,” Bruno said. “One of the best teams I ever coached. We can learn a lot from what happened all season and especially tonight.”