By Dan Bahl
HAMDEN, Oct. 5 -- On the scoreboard, the match may have been over early. But the deficit didn’t change how Hamden High coach Patricia Shugrue executed her game plan. And, if Shugrue is fully entrenched in the game, you can bet that her team is, too.
Hamden controlled play throughout the match Wednesday night, racking up 12 aces en route to a 3-0 win against West Haven, winning each set by scores of 25-14, 25-12 and 25-15, respectively.
Hamden moves to 11-1, and Shugrue recognizes that it takes an entire team to elevate a program to this level of success.
“The team chemistry is there for them,” said Shugrue. “That’s one thing I enjoy watching with them -- they stick together, the work together, they fight.”
Hamden got off to a strong start in the first set, taking leads of eight and nine points before ultimately winning the set 25-14. Senior Tyra Smith paced the Hamden offense throughout the set, accumulating two kills and three blocks.
“I think our teamwork and communication pushed us to do as (well) as we did today,” Smith said.
Hamden’s dominant play continued into the second and third sets as Smith finished the game with 10 kills. Senior setter Sophia Flanders added 26 sets.
Smith realizes the importance of every game and works with her fellow seniors to set the tone of each match.
“We try to pick them up and motivate them to keep talking, keep making their passes to the setter, keep hitting,” Smith said.
Shugrue echoed this statement and her sideline demeanor showed it.
From the first serve of the game until the final point, she was straight-faced, arms crossed, showing her team that this is no time to quit.
“Sometimes they need to be reminded (to stay focused),” Shugrue said. “Sometimes they need to just look over, (and see my) arms crossed and my face and they know that I’m not happy with them.”
With the loss, West Haven falls to 2-9.
Hamden’s constant offensive pressure dominated West Haven, as the Blue Devils lost a number of points on aces from the Green Dragon servers. They fell behind early and never mounted a comeback.
“We didn’t run enough offense and score enough points,” Kate Coldren said. “We played a lot of defense. We couldn’t be aggressive enough to score points.”
Senior setter Megan Patterson led the West Haven offense as she put up three assists and two aces. She scored seven of the Blue Devils’ total points. Having been with the program for four years, Patterson recognized what has been going wrong for her team.
“I think we can stay focused and talk better,” Patterson said, “We don’t shake off our mistakes right away and we need to start doing that.”
The Green Dragons head out on the road as they play Wilbur Cross in a nonleague match on Friday, while the Blue Devils travel to Mercy High School to play the Tigers on Friday.
Hamden looks to extend its winning streak to eight matches, while West Haven will try to break a four-match skid.
“We just need to carry our momentum,” Shugrue said. “The competition in the second half of the season is always more and we need to continue to stay focused and never take any team lightly.”
“They didn’t give up,” Coldren said of her West Haven team, “It was good to see the energy and them not getting down on themselves and working together as a team.”
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)