St. Joseph spikers post historic season

Granby Memorial capped a perfect season with a 3-0 (25-20, 25-19, 25-18) win over St. Joseph in the Class M girls volleyball final at Glastonbury High on Nov. 15.

With the win, the Bears finished the season 26-0 and won the first volleyball title in program history.

Appearing in its first state title game since 2001, the third-seeded Cadets (19-5) could not match up with the tall, athletic and experienced Bears.

“They are very, very powerful... We knew that going in, we knew we’d have a hard time,” St. Joseph head coach Jeff Babineau said. “They’re very athletic and very big. We did okay, we hurt ourselves a couple of times with service errors and just didn’t think on the floor. It was the first time in a long time to be here, so I’m pretty proud of them.”

Senior Lauren Pitney led St. Joseph with seven kills and three aces, while Ellie Dudzinski chipped in with 14 assists.

Senior setter Kaylee Jerman fueled the Bears’ offensive attack with 37 assists and nine digs and was named Most Outstanding Player of the tournament. Casey Hunt added 12 kills for the Bears, while Shannon Ryan and Cali Holt gave the Bears added options up front.

Granby feasted on almost every Cadet mistake in the championship match, quickly getting into its offense and finding the gaps in St. Joseph’s defense.

“We fed them too many free balls that put them into their offense,” Babineau said.

The Bears also got a big lift from winning a tightly-contested first game.

St. Joseph led 19-17, before the Bears tied it at 19 on Colleen Longley’s serve. The tying point came after a pancake dig from Molly Hammack that was spiked down by Holt in the middle.

The Cadets called timeout and won the next point, before Holt and Longley combined on a block to give serve back to the Bears. From there, Hammack ripped off a 5-0 run, capped by a Hunt kill, to seal the 25-20 win.

Granby led wire-to-wire in game two. The Cadets got within 13-12 with Jackie Jozefick serving, prompting a Bear timeout. They recovered from there, using a 6-2 flurry to take a 19-14 lead. St. Joseph did not have an answer, with Holt stuffing down a block to secure the 25-19 victory.

The Cadets led just once in the third game, 4-3, as Granby continued its dominant hitting en route to its first-ever state volleyball title.

St. Joseph loses four seniors, including starters Pitney and Maite Gritsko, but is set to return a strong core next fall.

“I only start two seniors, they are going to be okay,” Babineau said.