Volleyball Team Defeats Bunnell And Bethel Each By 3-0 Scores
Newtown High School’s girls’ volleyball team took the minimum three sets to defeat both visiting Bunnell of Stratford on September 21 and host Bethel on September 24.
The Nighthawks improved to 4-2 overall and a carry a two-match winning streak into the Friday, September 28 match with visiting Joel Barlow of Redding, set for 5:30 pm.
Against Bunnell, Newtown won 3-0 (25-13, 25-11, 25-14). The Nighthawks jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the first set and never looked back. Natalie Horn had two kills, Kim Buttery had a kill, and Mollie Goudy dropped in a pair of aces as part of the match-opening run of points. Some Bunnell errors/violations also contributed to Newtown’s fast start.
A diving save by Jackie Moccio led to a point. Horn added another kill, and Veronica Kroha’s service point helped Newtown build a 15-3 lead over the Bulldogs.
Bunnell scored three straight points to get the deficit back to single digits but the Nighthawks pulled away. Hannah Groonell’s service point and Sarah Nowacki’s kill were among the NHS highlights. Groonell’s spike went off the net and landed into empty space for a 23-11 lead. Buttery set the ball for a Kroha kill, bringing things to game point. Following a pair of Bunnell points, a net violation on the Bulldogs ended it.
In the win over the Bulldogs, Buttery had five kills, 19 assists, and four digs; Horn had six kills; Goudy logged two aces and four digs; Catie Gregory had seven assists; and Kroha and Erin Mitchell had four kills each
Newtown defeated the Bethel Wildcats 3-0 (25-19, 25-14, 25-19). Buttery had 19 assists, and Gregory had 11 assists. Natalie Horn had compiled nine kills, four digs, and a pair of aces. Genevieve Murray had six kills; Kroha had two aces, three kills, and two blocks; Moccio had one kill, a trio of digs, and eight service points; and Shannon Jackman added three digs.
Newtown Coach Tom Czaplinski was pleased with the overall results of these two matches, but continues to look for more from his team members.
“Both matches were very similar. Our biggest issue as a team is we still lack consistency,” said Czaplinski, noting that the team passed well but struggled with its serving game against Bethel, after it had served well but struggled with its passing game against Bunnell.
Buttery has been the team leader on the court, and Kroha has been the team’s biggest surprise, Czaplinski said, with several players stepping up to contribute to a lineup that lost six key players to graduation from a year ago.
Barlow carried a 6-0 record into Wednesday’s scheduled match with Stratford. Barlow, the six-time South-West Conference champion, defeated Newtown in each of the last two pinnacle matches. Newtown’s only two losses this fall are in nonconference clashes to tough St Joseph of Trumbull and Woodstock Academy squads.
Even if Newtown does not overcome Barlow, not all would be lost in a loss, especially if the Nighthawks play solidly.
“Absolutely — sometimes you learn more about your team through a loss than through a win,” said Czaplinski, adding that his team took some positives out of its two defeats.
This matchup between Newtown and Barlow is not the first of the season. This one counts in the SWC standings, and the teams will meet again on their nonconference clash in Redding on October 24. The second meeting may not be the last either. These clashes may be championship match previews, given both the recent history and how well they are playing this fall.
“It’s definitely a possibility,” said Czaplinski, adding that Brookfield (unbeaten heading into Wednesday’s match with Masuk of Monroe) and Masuk are among the possible contenders as well. “We would like to think that we’ll both be there at the end.”
Regardless, there should be a good competition on the court between Czaplinski’s Nighthawks and the rival Barlow Falcons, and fans can just about count on seeing a five-set battle or four highly competitive games. A three-game sweep — either way — is not expected when these teams hit the court together.
“It’s going to be a great match. It usually goes the distance,” the coach said.
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