Girls volleyball: Trumbull advances in state tournament

Using a defensive strategy to counter Newtown High standout Jamie Calandro, the host Trumbull High girls volleyball team overcame a tough Nighthawk squad to win 3-1 (20-25, 25-18, 26-24, 25-16) in the first round of the Class LL state tournament on Monday night.

Mia Hampford had 13 kills, eight digs and 11 service points; Sydney Adams compiled six kills, 21 assists and nine digs; Alyssa Breunig logged nine kills, 10 digs and three blocks; and Becca Lubbert registered 13 digs and two aces.

With the win, the 13th-seeded Eagles (15-6) advance to face No. 4 Cheshire (16-2) on the road in the second round on Thursday at 6 and the season ends for No. 20 Nighthawks (11-9).

“We knew coming into this game we were going to win,” Breunig said. “Once we came in with that mentality we were able to push through.”

The Eagles clawed back multiple times to prevail in game three.

Down 18-15, Trumbull evened the score with a 3-0 run, capped by Sophia Picarazzi’s ace. The teams traded points with Newtown claiming and reclaiming one-point advantages every time the Eagles answered. Newtown finally went up by two points, and were one point away from victory at 24-22 before the Eagles finished the game on a 4-0 run.

A Hampford kill and a Nighthawk error got the score even, then Trumbull took the lead when Newtown couldn’t return the ball. Allison Nielsen’s ace ended the game for a 2-1 Trumbull lead.

"We did a great job executing," Breunig said.

In game four, Newtown seized an early three-point lead. Gabriella Decker’s diving save led to a point to knot the score at eight apiece and Lubbert’s service point gave Trumbull a 9-8 edge.

Lubbert added an ace and a diving play, which led to Gesica Scaccia’s kill for a 12-8 Eagles’ lead. The Nighthawks got the next three points to pull back to within one, but Trumbull answered with a 5-0 run and never looked back. Breunig’s kill ended the match.

Calandro mustered 13 kills and 12 digs, to go along with a pair of aces, but might have done more damage if not for Trumbull’s strategy.

“The plan was to serve away from her because she can do everything,” said Trumbull head coach Tamara DeBerry, adding that the Eagles scouted the Nighthawks in the South-West Conference tournament. “I knew going in that they were going to be a very good team.”

The Eagles implemented a four-person serve-receive setup on the court, using four back row players instead of the generally standard three.

Adams, because of her athleticism, was used across from Calandro in the front row; and sophomore Lubbert was called upon for regular minutes because of her defensive prowess.

DeBerry was pleased with how Lubbert stepped up, and with her team’s performance, in general.