By KEN MORSE
When the final point hit the floor, the Plainville girls leaped for joy as the streak was finally over. The Lady Blue Devils volleyball team had endured the agony of defeat and had not experienced the thrill of victory over a span of 30 games.
But last Wednesday in Waterbury at Wilby High School, that all changed when Plainville swept the Wildcats 3-0 (25-16, 25-12, 25-7).
The smile on the faces of the players was priceless. For second year head coach Bob Moffo, who had seen his girls come so close but missing the mark for the past two seasons, the development was satifsying. Last year, the Blue Devils won just six sets all season but fell short in 3-2 decisions to Hartford Public and Bristol Central.
“These girls have been nothing but positive through it all,” said Moffo. “We are getting better each day and moving up the ladder. Hopefully this starts us on a roll. These kids are great, I love them, they keep me feeling young,” he added.
The girls kept showing up for practice and continued to get better with each match. When they showed up at Wilby last Wednesday, they were without one of their starters as junior Katherine Tanguay had to miss the game due to an illness.
Playing for their missing teammate, Plainville came out with a purpose as Wilby put up a fight tying game one three times. Deadlocked at 14-14, Samantha Lozefski (10 points, four aces) fed a return over the middle to freshman Wiktoria Galazyn (four kills) and the thunderous side out kill changed the complexion of the game.
“We just needed to go out and finish a game and today we did that,” said senior captain Lozefski. “It’s such a great feeling, we’ve worked so hard for this.”
Holding a slim 15-14 advantage, senior Avalon Borra (13 points, 4 aces) took over the serve and rattled off a seven point run aided by three straight aces and two mighty kills from Lozefski and junior Margaret Cronkhite, assisted by junior Olivia Gajor (four assists, three kills).
Plainville was in an unfamiliar place, having the lead at 22-15 staring down the pressure of a game one victory. Senior Josie Rupaka (three points, two assists, two kills) went after a return setting up Cronkhite with a side out kill. Moments later, Gajor shot an ace down the sideline to bring about game point. Wilby returned the next serve into the net for the 25-16 game winner.
In game two, Victoria Corriveau (23 service points) started and finished the match with two extended runs in serve. Senior Shai-yonna Durham assisted Lozefski on a kill at the end of a seven point run as Plainville jumped out to a 7-1 advantage.
Junior Simona Barbagallo came on to guard the back row as the libero with seniors Samantha Paradis in the middle row and Mackenzie Alvarado making her presence felt at the net.
The lead increased to 14-5 before Wilby began to battle back. Junior Olivia Wazorko managed to keep several returns alive with dig saves but the lead had shrunk to 21-12. Corriveau came on to serve out the final margin of victory with a four point run in a 25-12 win handing the Blue Devils a 2-0 advantage heading into game three.
“It’s been a long journey but it’s not the end of the journey,” said senior captain Corriveau. “The goal is not to win one game there are a few more out there for us.”
Every player on the team endured the two seasons of heartache and each player played a role in seeing it come to an end. Corriveau got game three started ripping off an 11 point run.
Junior Emily Savage came on and was part of a determined effort that saw Rupaka dive to the floor for a dig save with Galazyn somehow getting a fist on it to keep it alive and Savage sending it back over the net for a kill.
Armed with a commanding 18-4 advantage, the streak was on shaky ground and ready to fall when junior Vanessa Xiques drilled a kill to the back row as the Plainville bench erupted in cheers.
It was only a matter of time and when Wazorko slammed a side out kill to set up game point, it seemed like the weight of the world had been lifted off the Lady Blue Devils. Moments later, the streak was over and happy tears were followed by heartfelt hugs following the 25-7 win and a three game sweep of the Wildcats of Wilby.
“It’s our senior year and we don’t want to go out with just one win,” said Lozefski.
“The key to this whole journey has been we’ve had each other’s back,” said Corriveau. “To see our coach in tears after this game shows us that he believes in us and he does this for us. He’s a great coach.”
Plainville has an opportunity to add to the numbers in the win column this week when they take on 4-6 Platt at home on Tuesday and then host 4-8 Rocky Hill on Wednesday before finishing out the week at 2-10 Middletown on Friday.
PHOTOS by KEN MORSE