By PHIL BRODSKY
Orange Live Sports Writer
On Tuesday night, the Amity volleyball team traveled to Guilford to take on the Indians and quickly took the first 2 games by scores of 25-9 and 25-23. The visiting Lady Spartans then dropped the next 2 games 20-25 and 23-25. With their backs to the wall and forced to play a fifth 15 point game, Amity quickly regrouped and pulled out the match by winning that fifth and decisive game 15-12.
It much the same story on Wednesday night when Amity returned home to host Branford in another Southern Connecticut Conference inter-divisional battle. Once again, Amity grabbed an early 2-0 lead, winning Games No. 1 and 2 by scores of 25-17 and 25-18. On the verge of being swept, the Hornets stung back by claiming the next 2 games 25-17 and 25-23. Again with their backs to the wall the Black and Gold faced a fifth and final game for the second straight night. This time, they could not dodge the bullet. The lights went out on Amity as Branford (now 3-1) jumped out to a quick 9-1 lead and wrapped up its stunning road comeback by winning that game 15-7.
Stunned by his team’s collapse after holding that 2-0 lead, Amity Coach Paul Thees denied that his team ran out of gas when forced to play back-to-back 5 game matches.
He said, “I don’t think that’s what happened. I think it was more a case of us getting too comfortable after winning the first 2 games. We had more than our share of opportunities to win the match, but didn’t capitalize on any of them.”
Thees pointed out that his team normally lands more than 90% of its serves, but missed 3 serves in that final 15 point game.
“How do you miss 3 serves in a row in a 15 point game and expect the win the match? We never gave ourselves a chance to win Game No. 5,” he asked. “We didn’t miss that many serves in the first 2 games combined. We could easily have won in 3 and then in 4 games tonight. We were close to winning both games, but didn’t choose to get the job done. I’m totally annoyed with what happened tonight.”
After Amity scored the first point in Game No. 5, the Hornets ran off 9 points in a row. In addition to Hannah Zampano’s kill and Tara Dering stuffing Allison Denny’s blast back over the net, Branford took advantage of several Lady Spartan mistakes. While Denny reversed the favor by blocking a Dering blast, Amity still trailed by 7 points (10-3). Leading 13-3 Branford followed with a trio of misfires, but the Lady Spartans got no closer than 6 points (13-7). Following Sydnee Sousa’s scoring black of a kill try from the Hornets’ Anna Atkinson, Branford turned out the lights with sophomore Ellery Riccio’s bump and a match ending blast to the floor by Zampano.
According to winning Coach Eva Esposito, “We knew we were capable of playing better that we did in the first 2 games and still had the potential to win the match. We eliminated unforced errors and started doing some good things. Instead we started making more aggressive plays and making good things happen. Early in the match, Amity was tipping the ball a lot. We finally started to read and react to those tips. Our comeback was a total team effort. It took us a while, but we finally game together.
Zampano led the 3-1 winners with 14 kills. Zampano added 12 kills and 3 blocks. Setter Lauren Kuhn chipped in with 16 assists.
Amity got off to a very slow start in Game No. 1. Back-to-back services aces by Kuhn, followed by a pair of Zampano’s cross court kills, an ace by Kelly Smith, and 3 Amity misfires, staked Branford to a 10-3 lead.
Stung by the Hornets’ hot start, Amity quickly responded with an 8-1 run and tied the opener at 11-11. That scoring spree featured 2 Sousa kills, a scoring bump by Kristen Post, and an ace from Katheryn Pisano.
Still knotted at 14-14, Amity broke things open with a final 11-4 spurt. Rebecca Denny rang up 2 kills, an ace, and a block. In addition to a string of Branford side outs, Post added a game-ending blast to the floor.
The second game saw Amity get off to the hot start and grab a quick 9-1 edge. Sousa led the surge with a dink, a dump, and a kill. Allison Denny added a pair of kills and a dink. Included in Amanda Vecchio’s 6 straight service points was an ace.
While Branford crept back within 2 points (17-15), Amity put that game away with its final 8-2 run. Sousa drilled home 2 aces. In addition, Allison Denny and Post hammered spikes to the floor. Denny also fooled Branford with an unexpected dink.
The third game belonged to Branford from start to finish. A pair of Zampano
sparked an early 4-1 lead. Additional scoring spikes by Dering, Atkinson, Zampano, and consecutive services aces by freshman Abby Atlkinson and 2 more Dering scores opened up a 14-7 Hornet lead. Kills by Zampano, Anna Atkinson, Dering as well as a series of Lady Spartan errors gave the visitors the third game.
After jumping out to a 4-1 at the outset of the fourth contest, Amity extended its lead to 14-8 with Allison Denny posting a kill, a dink, and an “in your face” block of Atkinson’s attempted kill. Vecchio drilled home 2 scoring blasts and Branford stumbled several times.
Still holding a seemingly stabled lead (16-11), Amity began to whither under heavy Branford offensive pressure. Lit by Anna Atkinson’s 2 kills, the Hornets exploded with a 9-2 surge that also featured Atkinson’s ace, senior Co-Captain Meg Wirtz’s tip, along with kills from Zampano, Dering, and Wirtz. Sitting on a 20-18 lead, the winners took advantage of a string of Amity mistakes and a game-ending kill from Anna Atkinson ended the fourth contest and evened the tally at 2-2.
Thess said, “Allison Denny had 9 kills and 5 blocks and Kristen Post added 7 kills. We can’t win with only 16 kills. No way we should lose when we lead 2-0 at home. We lost because we didn’t play well in the third, fourth, and fifth games.”
Allison Denny was also good on all 8 of her serves with 1 ace. Pisano was good on all 16 of her serves with an ace. Vecchio was 22-22 until she missed a crucial serve in the fifth game. It was the same story for Sousa, who was 18-18 until she also missed a serve in the fifth game.
Amity is back in action Friday with a 7 PM Housatonic Division match at Shelton .
Allison Denny recorded 13 kills and Pisano had 26 assists in Tuesday’s marathon win over Guilford.