Senior Steph Targonski’s dual role as a good net player and an effective service person with the Trumbull High girls volleyball team came into sharp focus when the Eagles played host to cross-town rival St. Joseph in their home gym on Sept. 30.

Targonski contributed 15 kills and had 21 service points, as Trumbull came up with a 3-1 victory against what both Targonski and her coach Tamara DeBerry described as a much improved Cadet team.

St. Joseph, with a 6-3 record after the defeat, has its third head coach in the same number of seasons. Interim athletic director Jeff Babineau, a highly-successful softball coach at the Trumbull school, has taken the position.

“This program (volleyball) was heading on a downward slide,” Babineau said. “We’d only won seven games in each of our last two seasons. We already have six wins and, right now, we’re in the midst of one of the tougher parts of our schedule.”

After taking game one, 25-19, the Eagles dropped the second set, 25-16, before rallying for 25-22 and 25-23 victories to secure the match and bring the team’s record to 4-3.

“We didn’t expect this to go four games,” DeBerry said. “St. Joseph hung in there. They’re tough. Their athleticism carried them.”

The Cadets typified a tough approach in game two, where they fell behind early (trailing 7-3) before rebounding to pull even at 8-8.

They then took the lead on a kill by outside hitter Maite Gritsko (16 for the game). After that, the Cadets never trailed.

Three straight kills by Gritsko gave the Cadets a 24-13 lead. St. Joseph went on to win by nine points.

But Trumbull got the match back in control. After falling behind early in game three, the Eagles surged on. They pulled even, at 13-13, on a service ace from senior captain Jeanette Marini.

Ahead, 14-13, Trumbull still had to battle through three more deadlocks before falling behind, 21-19.

Tied once again, at 22-22, the Eagles scored the sets’ final three points for the win.

A kill from Hailey Pekera, a tip point from Rachel Carron and a service ace from Targonski made the difference.

There were seven ties in game four, the final one at 22-22, before Trumbull took a 24-22 lead.

St. Joseph made it 24-23 on Lauren Pitney’s kill, but Carron tipped another shot back into empty space, giving Trumbull its deciding point.

“We took a little different mindset into this match,” said Targonski, a year-round player who’s looking to obtain a college scholarship for volleyball. “We knew that they’re better this year than they’ve been in the past.

“We certainly weren’t going to underestimate them. It’s always nice to beat your rival.”

Adding to Trumbull’s winning effort was Carron with six kills, four blocks and two digs.

Senior setter Anna Bivona, returning to the line-up for the first time this year after recovering from a hip injury, had 40 assists and 10 digs.

Marini had 47 digs and 13 service points along with two aces. Nicole Healey had 33 assists for St. Joseph.

“It’s going to take some time, but I want to bring this program back,” Babineau said. “We’ll do it in strides. It may take three or four years, but we’ll get it done.”

DeBerry cited her team’s ability to spot serve and to battle back from behind as key ingredients to take out of the match.

“Knowing that we can play from behind is important,” she added. “We had to do that a lot today. It’s not something that I hope we have to do all the time.

“It’s a vital tool to have though.”