This is a printer-friendly version of an article from Zip06.com.11/05/2017 11:00 PM
After amassing its best regular season in program history, the Guilford volleyball team pulled off a big win against Amity in the SCC Tournament semifinals to reach the championship game for the first time in six years last week. Even though the Indians didn't win a championship that night, they still walked out the gym with their heads held high after giving perennial powerhouse Cheshire everything it could handle.
The 2nd-seeded Indians took on top-seeded, undefeated Cheshire in the SCC Tournament final at East Haven High School on Nov. 4, marking Guilford’s first berth in the SCC title tilt since 2011. In the end, the Rams that kept their unblemished campaign alive by posting a 3-1 win that secured their 11th conference crown. However, Guilford did rally for a 25-23 victory in the first set and then played the Rams tight in the next three sets before losing them by final scores of 22-25, 18-25, 22-25.
“Taking that first set was huge, because it set the tone and let the girls know that Cheshire isn’t an unbeatable team,” said Head Coach Laura Meyer, whose team is 20-3. “What happened after that first set was we were down six or seven points the rest of the way and had to climb out of holes, but we gave them tight games in each set. Without those holes, we could’ve beaten them.”
Julia Hyman dished out 24 assists and punched up six digs for the Indians. Amanda King came through with 11 kills and 12 digs, while Juliet Young tacked on 11 digs.
Guilford grabbed an quick 7-4 lead in the first set, but the Rams (21-0) rallied to go up 11-8 and then 18-9. The Indians stormed back and outscored the Rams 16-5 the rest of the way to win it 25-23.
“They had a couple of servers that got us in a funk. We then had some errors and, in a timeout, I asked the girls who was nervous, but then I told them it’s OK, because we haven’t been here before,” Meyer said. “I told them that good plays are contagious, and one good play leads to another, and they become easier to make. Once they did that, they forgot it was the SCC final and saw it as a regular game. It was a big confidence boost for them.”
Cheshire jumped out to a 16-11 advantage in the second set. Guilford got within two at 21-19, but the Rams finished off a 25-22 win to even the match at one set apiece. Cheshire held a 21-14 lead in the third set, and Guilford tried to mount a comeback, but the Rams won it 25-18. In the fourth set, Cheshire established a 17-12 lead and went on to take it 25-22 to clinch the SCC title.
Previously in the draw, the Indians hosted No. 7 seed Branford in the quarterfinals on Oct. 30 and recorded a 3-0 (25-16, 25-16, 25-12) sweep against the team that handed them their first defeat of the season. Young had 11 digs and seven aces; King contributed nine kills, four digs, and two aces; Emma Appleman reeled in seven kills, two blocks, and two aces; plus Hyman had 22 assists and three digs.
Guilford next hosted No. 3 Amity in the semifinals on Nov. 2 and won a 3-1 (25-30, 20-25, 25-19, 25-22) decision against the Spartans. Appleman posted 11 kills, nine digs, and four aces, Flynn had 11 kills and a pair of blocks, King added 10 kills and nine digs, Hyman handed out 34 assists to go with five kills; and Young added 15 digs for the Indians, who went on a memorable run to the SCC final that got the attention of their fellow clubs in the conference.
“In the past couple of weeks, we were a little flat and were getting by without playing our A-game. We were in a funk going into SCCs, but then our A-game came back,” Coach Meyer said. “We ran away with the Branford game, and it was similar to how we played earlier in the season. We were pumped and prepared for Amity, and the win showed the hard work and focus of the girls. Beating Branford and Amity and going to four sets and being tight with Cheshire, it got the girls the respect that they’ve deserved this year.”
Guilford is the No. 4 seed in the Class L State Tournament to earn a first-round bye and will host either No. 13 seed Pomperaug or No. 20 Platt in the second round on Thursday, Nov. 9 at 6 p.m. The Indians will stay active in the interim and are prepared to put their best foot forward on the floor in the state draw, no matter the opponent.
“There are pros and cons of having a bye, but it is good because we had a strenuous week, and we can take it easy on [Nov. 6],” said Meyer. “We are scrimmaging [Shoreline Conference champion Haddam-Killingworth], and it will be a really good way to practice, because it will be against a team we don’t know, which is also what will happen in states. Platt and Pomperaug are both decent programs, and so we have to be ready for a good team, and we will be.”
From the Sidelines
Trinity Flynn and Amanda King earned All-SCC First Team honors for the Indians’ volleyball squad this year.
The combined regular season records of the three teams the Guilford faced in the SCC Tournament—Branford, Amity, and Cheshire—was 43-9.
For the Indians in states, a potential Class L quarterfinal would be at home on Saturday, Nov. 11 at 6 p.m.; the semifinals are on Wednesday, Nov. 15; and then the final is on Saturday, Nov. 18 at East Haven High School.