By Sarah Russell
CHESHIRE, Sept. 27 -- Cheshire High School coach Sue Bavone knew her team's volleyball match against Foran would be a tough one, but her team proved it was ready to stay undefeated this season. But, for only the second time this season, the Rams needed to play four sets to get their eighth win.
The Cheshire Rams are 8-0, defeating the 8-2 Foran Lions.
The Rams took the first two sets, 25-15 and 25-19. The Lions came back in the third set, though, 25-18. In the fourth set, Cheshire sealed its victory, 25-11.
“In the first two games I thought we served tough,” said Bavone. “I thought we really stressed their passers and served a little bit tougher than normal.”
Foran coach Julie Johnson agreed.
“They had really tough servers who keep the ball inbounds, you know, not a lot of serving errors. It really kind of messed up our offense,” said Johnson. “We had a hard time getting offense because we just could not get a good pass because their serves were so tough.”
The Rams had the numbers to prove it. Sophomore Lindsey Abramson had four aces on the night, followed by juniors Megan Clyne with three and Elena Piran, who had two aces.
Piran led the team with 11 kills and Abramson had nine.
Clyne added nine kills, two blocks, two assists and two digs.
“We just came into this game pumped, we wanted to win,” Clyne said. “We knew this team was good and we had similar records, so we were like, ‘Well, we’ve got to take this one here. We’ve got to fight through.’ Our passes were on point, I felt like, and (we) had good ups and the sets were there.”
In the third set, the Lions took a lead of 12-8. The Lions did it again later in the set -- this time a seven-point scoring run to bring the score to 24-18.
Bavone didn’t let her team give up after the third set, though.
“I just said they need to get back on a rhythm, they need to treat this as a threat, which it is. I said the momentum now is on their side, we need to get the momentum back and you do that by pressuring them,” said Bavone.
“It’s all in the head, it’s all mental game stuff, so I mean we had to pick ourselves back up,” said Clyne. “We know how to play volleyball, we’ve been doing it for years.”
Cheshire used the momentum to create havoc and Foran struggled with communication, often running into each other or several players diving for the same ball. The mayhem cost the team points and Cheshire used a run of five points to clinch the final set.
The Rams face East Lyme at 6 p.m., Friday.
By Cullen Ronan
CHESHIRE, Sept. 27 -- In a chippy battle of non-conference rivals, the visiting Shelton High School Gaelettes walked off the pitch victorious, earning a 3-0 shutout over the Cheshire Rams.
Rams (2-4) head coach James Luis said before Wednesday’s matchup his team had to prepare for a physical game, and that’s exactly what the Gaelettes (6-1-1) brought, driving the ball upfield early and peppering the Rams' defense with scoring chances.
We allowed them to push us around,” Luis said. “Our work rate overall just wasn’t good enough. If we would have worked a little harder, been a little bit more competitive in winning 50-50 balls, we probably would have had a different result.”
The Rams' offense had a number of scoring opportunities in the first half.
Speedy junior midfielder Lila McNamee couldn’t capitalize as she got in close, having three shots sail wide of Shelton goalkeeper Courtney Litts.
Gaelettes senior forward Kelly Hurd attacked the left side often in the first half, but it wasn’t until the second half when Shelton finally scored when junior MacKenzie Joyce rifled her lone shot past the Cheshire keeper on a cross from Hurd.
Shelton coach Marvin Miller said Hurd’s constant offensive pressure is an integral part of the Gaelettes' offensive attack and has been one of the keys to the team's 6-1-1 start this season.
“She fits right into our game strategy,” Miller said. “That’s the way we like to play ... using those fast, outside flank runners.”
Joyce added two assists to her scoresheet when she led sophomore midfielder Haley Oko to a goal, and served as the catalyst to junior midfielder Esabel Rosa’s effortless chip shot with 5:45 remaining.
“She was a monster today, the woman of the match,” Miller said of Joyce. “The game changed when we put her in.”
While Shelton's upperclassmen led the Gaelettes, it was a lack of experience that seemed to hinder the Rams' offensive attack, Luis said.
However, the Rams had a bright spot coming off the bench when freshman forward Katie Welage made her varsity debut. Making the most of her limited minutes, Welage hustled past a tired Gaelettes defense and put together the best scoring opportunities of the game late in the second half for the Rams, missing a chip over the Shelton goalkeeper by mere inches.
“I thought she did really well. She outworked most of the kids on the team,” Luis said. “She will definitely get more opportunities moving forward.”
As the Gaelettes extended their winning streak to six games, Miller believes that his team will have no problem sustaining their early season success.
“We set a high standard of excellence. We train hard in practices. We're already thinking of our next game on Monday,” Miller said. “We know that if we just take each game in stride, we’ll be where we are supposed to be.”
While the scoreboard may not have been in the Rams favor, Luis believes his team can take some positives out of the matchup.
“When things go bad, we can learn from our mistakes, and hopefully that’s what our players will do,” Luis said.
Cheshire travels to Shelton for a rematch at 7 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 23.
By Ryan Chichester
CHESHIRE, Sept. 18 -- Prior to Monday night's match, Cheshire High School head volleyball coach Sue Bavone praised the Hamden Green Dragons for their 4-0 start to the season, but believed her Rams would provide a major test for an up-and-coming Hamden team looking to make a statement on the road.
Turns out, it would be Bavone’s Rams receiving the major test.
Hamden pushed Cheshire against the ropes through the first two sets, but eventually succumbed to the favored Rams in three sets, 25-20, 25-20, 25-15, for their first loss of the young season.
The fourth-ranked Rams remain undefeated (4-0) and have yet to lose a set this season. However, this one didn’t come easy.
“They’re the best team we’ve seen so far this year,” Bavone said, who notched the 493rd win of her career with the hard-fought victory. “It’s always good to have a good challenge and to come out of a challenge with a win and build on it.”
It was clear from the opening serve that it would be an uphill climb for the Rams. After jumping out to an 8-3 lead, the Green Dragons responded with a 14-5 run out of a timeout to take a 17-13 lead, causing Bavone to burn both of her timeouts within minutes of each other.
“I basically told them they were playing like they were scared,” Bavone said of her timeout speech. “Nobody was taking charge… I told them they had to come to play. I didn’t like their body language. I wanted to see something different.”
Hamden still held a 19-15 lead shortly out of the timeout, but quickly imploded.
Three consecutive errors on the back line helped the Rams grab momentum before junior Jenny Wang stood tall and led Cheshire to five straight points to seal the 25-20 victory. Wang recorded five of her eight kills in the first set.
“It was nerve-wracking at first, but after a couple points it started to flow and felt better,” Wang said of the first-set scare.
The first set would also have its share of controversy.
At 20-20, a sprawling save by Cheshire's Elena Piran led to a battle at the net that was originally ruled a point for the Rams after the ball made contact with the antenna. The judge on the opposite side reversed the call seconds later, but a collaboration of officials eventually led to a re-reversal, much to the despair of Hamden head coach Patricia Shugrue.
“From where I was standing, when they went to block the ball, it stayed on their side and touched the antenna,” Shugrue said. “At the end of the day, they’re in charge and they call the game.”
Hamden continued to shoot itself in the foot on serves in the second set, committing six serving errors to foil the comeback effort. The Green Dragons rattled off a 6-0 run late in the set to set up another exciting finish, but another service error cut the rally short.
“Serving hurt us tonight,” Shugrue said. “We missed some serves from servers who normally don’t miss.”
After two gritty sets, Cheshire began to flex its experienced muscles while the Green Dragons committed another five serving errors, one that would spark a 7-1 Cheshire run to bury the Green Dragons.
“We have very strong servers and we’re constantly working on consistency,” Hamden captain Sophia Flanders said, “but we have to work through those struggles.”
Cheshire’s big front line kept Hamden busy for most of the night, especially senior Faythe Johnson, who recorded a match-high 14 digs for the Green Dragons.
“We have to take our experiences from today and learn from them,” Shugrue said. “There’s some adjustments that we need to make. But, our girls our fighters, and the next time we play Cheshire it’s going to be a little different.”
Hamden hosts the rematch at 5:30, Tuesday, Oct. 10.
Students in Quinnipiac University's JRN361: Sports Reporting course cover local high school sports competitions. Their work is showcased here.
Banner photo courtesy
Dana Jensen/The Day (2003)