New Canaan spikers top Central
BRIDGEPORT -- All in all it was a pretty good start to the season for the New Canaan High School girls volleyball team Tuesday evening.
Not only did the Rams open with a 3-1 win at Bridgeport Central, but the new-to-varsity players got a little bit of a taste of pressure volleyball, which stands to help them in upcoming matches, in their debuts.
The Rams, after rolling to 25-11 wins in each of the first two games, battled to the finish of a back-and-forth 28-26 setback in game four, then pulled out the fifth game, 25-18, to seal the match.
Kellen Tensen clinched the win with the last of her six kills. Tensen also had seven service points and five digs. Andrea Mullaney compiled 15 service points, including five aces, and had nine digs and eight kills. Melissa Tweed had 10 kills and four digs, setter Ellen Trinklein had 29 assists and 22 service points, including seven aces; Gwen Candergraff tacked on seven service points, and Cassidy Ward added six more service points.
Candergraff, along with Annie Conover, are sophomores and among the new varsity players who saw playing time and contributed to the win.
"We had a lot of first-time varsity players," Rams head coach Katie Campbell said. "They did a really nice job to come out being aggressive. They didn't shy away from the ball which is key in a first game."
The up-and-coming players got a fair amount of experience in preseason, but this was their first match play since being members of the freshman team a year ago.
"Even though we had a lot of scrimmages it's totally different when it's a game," Campbell pointed out.
The Rams, after pushing Central to the brink of defeat, found themselves in a close battle in game three. The teams traded leads and Central had to fend off the Rams after they tied the score multiple times late the third game. The New Canaan coach wasn't complaining about having her young players tested in their first varsity action.
"You want them to be challenged right away," Campbell said.
Campbell said she would like to see her players tighten up their games and make every sequence a sharp one -- controlling the aspects of the game they can have control over. The match, after it seemed the visitors were in complete control, got a little too close for the Rams' liking, in part because of a few miscues and service errors.
"I kind of got a little tight. We got sloppy, a bit, but we pulled it out," Tensen said. "[Overall] I feel like we definitely came out on a strong note."
Something the Rams need to do well to continue to succeed as the season unfolds, Tensen said, is communicate.
"I think just talking to one another and just staying up though every point. Always having the mindset that we have to get the next point but not letting it get to us if we don't get the point," she said will be keys to winning.
"I think we need to work on keeping our composure under pressure situations -- that last couple of points when it gets down to the nitty-gritty win or lose, we need to pull those out," Tweed said.
The Rams went into the match with a good mindset and that seemed to pay off.
"I think we really came out with a positive attitude and we kept it going," Trinklein said. "We showed a lot of effort on the court. We tried not to let the ball drop."
Tweed got her entire body off of, and parallel to, the floor to keep one ball from hitting the floor and keep a volley alive.
"It's definitely good to start out the season with a win," Tweed said. "This is definitely a step in the right direction for us."
The Rams, following a match with Bassick Thursday night, will entertain Darien at 5:30 p.m. on Monday.