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Junior captain Emma Appleman and the Indians rallied for a 3-2 victory against Woodstock Academy in the Class L semifinals to advance to face Avon for the title. (Photo by Meglin Bodner/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Senior Eva Ott Hill and the Guilford volleyball team went on a thrilling postseason run that took the Indians all the way to the championship match of the Class L State Tournament this fall. Guilford dropped a 3-0 decision to Avon in the state final at East Haven High School on Nov. 23. Visit Zip06.com to see more photos from this match. (Photo by Meglin Bodner/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Junior captain Juliet Young and the Guilford volleyball squad finished with a record of 23-4 after winning an SCC title and reaching the Class L state final in the 2019 season. Pictured on the left is No. 4, junior Carson Halbower. (Photo by Meglin Bodner/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
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The athletes on the Guilford volleyball squad held their heads high as they walked off the court following the championship match of the Class L State Tournament. Even though the Indians took a loss to Avon, they knew they had accomplished something special by putting together a campaign for the ages in 2019.
No. 5 seed Guilford went up against 2nd-seeded Avon in the Class M State Tournament final on Nov. 23. Avon claimed its first state title after earning a 3-0 (25-16, 25-19, 25-16) victory versus the Indians at East Haven High School.
Despite the loss, Head Coach Laura Anastasio was proud of her club for what it achieved this year. Guilford a program record for the most wins in a season by going 23-4 on its way to winning the SCC Tournament for the first time since 1994. Guilford went on to notch three more victories in the state draw, including a dramatic 3-2 win over Woodstock Academy in the semifinals, to make the title bout for the second time in team history.
“We took that win with us and hoped for the best in the championship game. Unfortunately, we ran into a team that was pretty much unbreakable,” said Anastasio, who competed her sixth year as head coach and her eighth with the program. “They served well and had good hitters. Defensively, we couldn’t find any holes out there. They seemed to dig every ball. They had three kids 6-foot or taller, including their setter, who was 6-2.”
Senior captain setter Eva Ott Hill finished the match with 11 assists and three digs for the Indians. Junior captain outside hitter Emma Appleman had 15 kills with five digs, while fellow junior captain Juliet Young contributed 15 digs and five assists. Junior Carson Halbower added five digs in the match.
The Indians never had the lead against Avon in either of the first two sets, taking a 25-16 loss in the opener and losing 25-19 in the second set. Guilford jumped out to a 6-4 lead in the third, but the Falcons responded by closing the frame on a 21-10 run to get the win.
“They were the best team that we faced all season,” Anastasio said of Avon.
Even though her team was unable to beat Avon, Coach Anastasio was happy to see Guilford follow up its SCC title by making major noise against some elite non-conference squads in states.
“We made some positive advances outside of the SCC. We managed to beat teams in the tournament outside of our conference. I think it gives us some attention around the state,” Anastasio said. “What we’ve accomplished was exciting both for the girls and for the program. Ever since I’ve been the head coach, I’ve always tried to raise the expectation level and to create a positive culture. I think we’ve done that.”
Guilford forged its way to the final by rallying for a 3-2 victory against No. 8 seed Woodstock Academy in a semifinal contest at Fitch High School on Nov. 20. The Indians won the first set 25-23, but then dropped the next two sets by scores of 21-25 and 14-25, respectively. However, Guilford stormed back to take the fourth set 25-20 and then win the decisive fifth frame by a 15-11 score to stun the Centaurs and advance to the championship.
From the Sidelines
The Guilford volleyball team's roster includes senior captain Eva Ott Hill, seniors Olivia Lawlor and Sabrina Zuniga, junior captains Emma Appleman and Juliet Young, juniors Zoe McClure, Carson Halbower, Olivia Ciocca, Megan McNamara, Julia Kinney, Emily Brouder; and freshman Corrine Puchalski.
The Indians finished with a record of 17-3 during the regular season. Guilford earned two victories versus North Haven (3-0, 3-0), East Haven (3-0, 3-0), Sheehan (3-0, 3-0), Hillhouse (3-0, 3-0), Hand (3-0, 3-0), Cheshire (3-0, 3-2), and Amity (3-0, 3-0), in addition to wins over East Lyme (3-1), Harding (3-0), and Shelton (3-0), The Indians took losses against Fitch (3-1), Shelton (3-1), and East Lyme (3-2).
Guilford started off the postseason by winning the SCC Tournament as the No. 1 seed. Following a first-round bye, the Indians notched a 3-0 win versus No. 8 East Haven in the quarterfinals, a 3-1 win over No. 4 Law in the semifinals, and a 3-2 victory against No. 2 Shelton in the championship match. The title marked the first time that Guilford had won the SCC Tournament since 1994.
As the No. 5 seed in the Class L State Tournament, the Indians earned a first-round bye. Guilford defeated No. 12 Hand (3-0) in the second round, No. 13 Platt (3-0) in the quarterfinals, and No. 8 Woodstock Academy (3-2) in the semis to advance to the final, where the Indians took a 3-0 loss to No. 2 Avon to finish the year with an overall record of 23-4.
This was the second time that Guilford played in a state final. In 1993, the Indians won the Class M crown by posting a 3-0 sweep against Darien in the title match.
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