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Hawk Spikers Fall To New Milford In Five Sets



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NEW MILFORD — Newtown High School’s girls’ volleyball team dropped a hard-fought five-set match to host New Milford in the South-West Conference tournament quarterfinals on November 4.

Fifth-seeded Newtown won games one and two before seeing the No. 4 Green Wave come from behind, including overcoming a 7-2 deficit and three times facing elimination with Newtown at match point before rallying in the fifth set, 21-19. The Wave also faced elimination down 24-23 in the third set.

After Newtown won the first two games by scores of 25-18 and 25-22, the Green Wave overcame that late deficit to win 27-25, then force a decisive fifth game with a 25-13 triumph.

Trailing by five points in game five, New Milford battled back and seized its first lead at 11-10. The teams went back and forth and traded leads until a Nighthawk service error was followed by an ace by New Milford’s Sydney Slupatchuk.

The Nighthawks, themselves, were staring at defeat with the Wave leading 16-15 and 19-18 before extending the already lengthy fifth set that went well beyond the 15 points needed to win by virtue of the elusive must win by two points scenario.

“They definitely played hard,” Newtown Coach Tom Czaplinski said of his players, adding that the Green Wave impressed especially give it was minus standout Emma Richieri who was sidelined due to injury sustained in practice the day before.

“They’re a great team. For them to overcome one of their best players being injured … it just shows they have a lot of heart and talent,” Czaplinski said.

The Nighthawks certainly started off well with the wins in the first two sets. NHS used a 6-0 run to double its lead to a dozen 22-10 then withstood a 7-0 Green Wave to win the first set. A combined effort on a block by Veronica Kroha an Amanda Arujo accounted for the clinching point.

In game two, the Nighthawks broke a 14-all tie on Genevieve Murray’s kill to start a 4-0 run capped by a Lauren Belden ace. New Milford clawed back and tied the score at 22. The Nighthawks reclaimed the lead on a service error, then went in front 24-22 on Sarah Nowacki’s kill. Murray’s block at the net was deflected out of bounds to close out the set.

Game three was ultra-close throughout. Down 7-5, the Nighthawks got back-to-back booming kills from Keyera Smith and Murray to even the score. After the teams traded points, a running save by Murray led to Natalie Horn’s kill and a 13-11 Nighthawk lead, Newtown went ahead 15-11, prompting New Milford to call timeout. The Wave came back to knot the score at 17 apiece before falling behind by two points five times before finishing the set strong.

In game four, the Nighthawks led 7-4 following a Belden kill and Murray block for a point. Newtown’s last lead was 9-8. New Milford seized an 11-10 lead before Horn’s ace tied things. The Wave then reeled off eight unanswered points to steal all of the momentum in the set.

Smith had nine kills, Murray had eight kills, and Nowacki, Kroha, and Horn all had seven. Catie Gregory led Newtown with eight digs. Horn and Belden had four and two aces, respectively. Maggie McInerney compiled 22 assists, and Gregory logged 19 assists. Kroha and Murray had nine and six blocks, respectively.

“The SWC dream is over, so we’re hoping we have a couple good practices in a row and maybe do something in states,” Czaplinski said.

Sarah Nowacki follows through on her hit during the match at New Milford. (Bee Photo, Hutchison)
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