Girls volleyball: St. Joseph wins Class M over East Haven

St. Joseph’s Christina Crocco read the set from Grace Vocalina and her hand met ball at the top of its ascent.

The duo followed the the spike to the floor, then turned to be mobbed by their teammates.

The Cadets had defeated host East Haven, 3-1, to capture the Class M state championship on Saturday.

“This was all about them,” Babineau said while nodding to his players. “They did all the work all season to get to this point. They did it for themselves, their school and their families. They made the big plays and got the big points when they had to.”

St. Joseph last won the state title in 1997. They lost in the 2014 final.

Crocco’s kill came on match point and gave the top-seeded Cadets a 26-24, 25-27, 25-21, 25-17 victory.

That was in contrast two the first two games.

Set points were twice turned twice by St. Joseph in winning game one.

The Cadets (25-2) lose game two, but not until the fourth set point.

“When I saw Christina’s ball hit the floor, it hit me — we are state champions,” said Elena Ball, who was named Game MVP with 16 kills.

“In the FCIAC, every game was a challenge and this was no different.”

Vocalina finished with 36 assists.

Crocco and Jenna Koonitsky had nine kills and five blocks each.

Bridget Fatse had eight kills.

“They have an All-Stater (Kylie Schlottman) on the outside and we had to defend that,’ Babineau said of No. 7 East Haven (21-6). “They’re very good defensively, and they serve well. It puts you on your heels a lot, but then again, you have to win each point, and that’s what they worked on all day.”

In the third set, the score was tied at 15 after one service rotation.

Vocalina and Kaitlin Capobianco each served a pair of winners.

Capobianco’s pass set up Ball’s winning spike at 24-21.

The fourth set was filled with side outs — except when Hannah Hutchison was at the stripe.

The senior had three winners, including an ace, to give the Cadets a 6-3 lead.

Ball and Hutchison each served up two more winners (13-9 and 18-12), each time running the Easties into a timeout.

After a side out, Capobianco’s dig over net was returned short.

Ball pushed a winner to an open spot to make it 23-17.

That gave serve to Vocalina, who notched the next two points with Crocco’s kill the winning spike.