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Defense The Difference: NHS Volleyball Team Beaten By Masuk In Conference Semifinals



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After defeating Masuk of Monroe twice during the regular season, Newtown High School’s boys’ volleyball team was upset by the Panthers in the South-West Conference Tournament quarterfinals, at home, on May 25.

The third-seeded Panthers defeated the second-seeded Nighthawks 3-1 (25-18, 25-22, 24-26, 25-17). Masuk went on to lose 3-0 to top-seed Joel Barlow of Redding in the May 27 championship match.

The biggest difference between the playoff win and Newtown’s two regular-season triumphs over the Panthers was Masuk’s defensive strategy to contain strong hitter Thad Teraszkiewicz.

“Masuk had its three tallest blockers on him and it affected him,” Newtown Coach Sandy Doski said.

Newtown’s outside hitter managed to accumulate a team-high 23 kills but not without many attempts being blocked. Over the course of Newtown’s 20 matches, Teraszkiewicz averaged just over 20 kills, Newtown Coach Sandy Doski said, but 14 of those matches were the minimum three games, giving him less chances to rack up points.

“It was definitely a big challenge to overcome,” Teraszkiewicz said of trying to rack up points against Masuk’s three-headed defensive monster of Ryan Barringer (eight blocks), Owen Smith, and Nate McCauley.

There was more to the match, of course, but Masuk’s defense overall was key to the outcome.

“Masuk’s defense was phenomenal. They were diving all over the floor to pick balls up and not letting anything drop,” Doski said.

After Newtown pulled out the third game to stay in it, the Nighthawks fell behind early in the fourth game. Down 19-10, Newtown had a 4-1 run sparked by consecutive Teraszkiewicz kills and capped by a Nico Diaz hit for a point, making it 20-14, but the Hawks couldn’t get any closer.

Diaz logged ten kills, one dig, and an assist. Lewis Tomaj tallied five kills, one dig, and a trio of blocks. Teraszkiewicz, in addition to his 23 kills, recorded two aces, one dig, and a block. Matt Mattera had a dig and three blocks to go along with 37 assists.

Newtown is scheduled to compete in the Class L State Tournament with a home match against Fairfield Ludlowe on Wednesday, June 1, at 7 pm. The Hawks are the No. 8 seed and Ludlowe is a deceptive No. 9 seed.

Ludlowe comes from the FCIAC, which boasts five teams among the top ten in Class L, led by No. 1 seed Darien, which the Newtown-Ludlowe winner has the task of challenging in the quarterfinal on Friday, June 3. In addition, Class M No. 3 seed New Canaan hails from the FCIAC.

“That’s not going to be an easy match for us. We’ve got to come out ready to play and play hard,” said Doski, whose team went 14-5 during the regular season.

“States has some good teams but we can hang with them,” Teraszkiewicz added.

Sports Editor Andy Hutchison can be reached at andyh@thebee.com.

Thad Teraszkiewicz tries to hit the ball over Masuk’s Ryan Barringer during the SWC Tournament semifinals, at Newtown High, on May 25. Masuk won 3-1. —Bee Photos, Hutchison
Nico Diaz looks to hit the ball past a pair of defenders.
Liam O’Sullivan (No. 7) and Lewis Tomaj (No. 15) go up for a block.
Will Connors digs the ball to keep it moving.
Warner Bacon (No. 16) is defended by Ethan Rentz.
Lewis Tomaj (No. 15) hits the ball over the net as Nate McCauley defends.
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