Eagles advance in states to play at Greenwich
The Trumbull High girls volleyball team delivered all over the court against host Shelton High in the first round of the Class LL state tournament Monday night, and handed coach Tamara DeBerry her first state tourney win.
The 19th-seeded Eagles upset the 16th-seeded Gaelettes in a hard-fought 3-2 victory (25-20, 16-25, 18-25, 25-20, 15-10).
Trumbull (11-8) will play at second-seeded Greenwich (17-2) in a second-round match tonight at 7.
Senior libero Jeanette Marini (37 digs) led a spirited Trumbull defense that made Shelton (13-7) earn every point.
Junior Kristen Peterson proved deadly from the service line, notching 18 service points, including five aces to give Trumbull (11-8) a decided advantage.
“Jeanette is on everything and she’s everywhere,” DeBerry said. “Things that you don’t think she can get to will be the ones that she comes up with at the most crucial points of the game, so I was very happy with her today.
“We did well on defense all around. Their outside hitters were very good and they hit very deep, so we adjusted our defense deeper than we normally do to compensate for that and set ourselves up in the right spots.”
Trumbull came out on the attack to start the match.
Senior Anna Bivona posted the first of her 47 assists with a nicely-placed ball to sophomore Amelia Hampford.
Senior Nicole Heyder followed with two aces, and the Eagles received kills from senior Laura Mateusiak from the left, Bivona from deep in the middle and senior Hailey Pekera on the backside for a 9-2 lead.
Shelton responded with solid serving to cut the lead to 12-10, but Marini and Heyder buckled down on the backline to spark a three-point run.
Shelton again roared back with strong serves from Gina Orazietti, but Peterson’s well-placed serves caught the Gaelettes off-guard for four service points that turned a one-point lead into a 25-20 win.
The Eagles appeared a little worn to start the second game and Shelton pounced on the opportunity, running out to an 11-3 powered by three aces from Orazietti.
After a timeout by DeBerry in which she stressed passing, the Eagles soared back into the game with senior Stephanie Targonski ripping off three aces and senior Rachel Carron stuffing the ball at the net to cut the Shelton lead to 11-10.
Trumbull’s defense forced several long rallies, but Shelton seemed to find holes in the Eagles’ armor, stringing together a seven-point run en route to a 25-16 win in the second game.
Trumbull went back to the roots of its early success and jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the third game ,with Peterson riffling serves and Bivona setting Targonski (16 kills) for two sharp spikes in the middle.
A series of hitting errors brought Shelton back within one point midway through the game, but Peterson got the locals on track with three straight service points.
Trumbull held the edge until Bivona broke the game open with two aces, leading to a 25-18 win in the third game.
Looking to end the match in four games, the Eagles stayed with Shelton early, but tried to force a series of outside hits that the Gaelettes blocked to take a 9-3 lead.
Spikes from Mateusiak (12 kills) sliced Shelton’s lead to 12-9, but the Trumbull hitters lost their touch and Shelton amassed a 22-15 advantage.
Peterson pulled the locals back together with a pair of aces, but the hosts notched kills from the left, right and middle to secure a 25-19 win and force the deciding game five.
Neither team could find an edge early in the fifth game, as they played to a 3-3 tie.
Carron stepped into the scoring vacuum and slammed home two straight set from Bivona in the middle, and then spiked down a misplaced Shelton set to lift Trumbull up to a 7-4 lead.
Shelton took advantage of a string of errors by the Eagles to tie the game at 9-9.
Targonski then slammed home an assist from Bivona to get the ball to Marini at the service line.
In need of some inspiration, the senior libero delivered an ace into the back right corner and then played the Shelton defense like a fiddle by slipping the next serve in front of the backline for another ace.
Targonski belted a spike to extend Trumbull’s five-point streak and then ripped home a set from Pekera to seal the 15-10 win and the match.
“We had the entire varsity team scout Shelton when they were playing in their conference tournament and we knew that we had to execute attacking,” DeBerry said. “Every time we got the ball we would have to attack, attack, attack. That was the game plan.
“This is the first year since I have been coaching at Trumbull that they have made it past the first round, so it’s exciting. We didn’t want the season to end here. We’d rather keep forging and keep playing one more game.”