Faced with overcoming the loss of standout Emma Richieri, injured in practice the day before the SWC playoffs started, New Milford’s girls’ volleyball team then had to overcome even more in their SWC playoff opener.
The Green Wave had to battle back from a two games to none deficit, a 7-2 hole in the decisive game five, and facing elimination with visiting Newtown at match point three times in that fifth set, not to mention overcome a 24-23 Newtown lead with the Nighthawks on the verge of closing things out in game three.
Coach Tony Nocera’s Green Wave got the job done, prevailing in the November 4 quarterfinals 3-2 (18-25, 22-25, 27-25, 25-13, 21-19).
Overcoming tough opponents and coming from behind in close matches during the regular slate helped prepare New Milford for the circumstances Newtown presented in the opening round.
“We’ve been in that situation so many times this year,” Nocera said.
The coach noted that Richieri was injured with just 20 minutes left in practice, leaving his team almost no time to prepare without her and scrambling to adjust on the fly, in match action.
“I’m extremely impressed, especially after the first set,” Nocera added.
Sydney Slupatchuk had 14 kills and 22 digs, Skylar Schaab notched eight kills, Grace Christian logged 32 assists and Jill Smith had six aces to go along with four kills for New Milford.
Slupatchuk’s ace sealed the win. Slupatchuk had a crucial point on a tap over the net to knot things at 18 apiece. Smith and Schaab had important points on kills to keep New Milford alive in game five.
Newtown’s Keyera Smith and Genevieve Murray had nine and eight kills, respectively, and Sarah Nowacki, Veronica Kroha, and Natalie Horn each had seven kills.