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Week 4: Woodstock Academy qualifies for Class L state tournament

Missing two key players and taking on an undefeated team finally got the best of the Woodstock Academy volleyball team.

But it took a while.

The Centaurs played five sets for the fourth time in five matches and fell just short to the 7-0 Griswold Wolverines, 3-2, Friday at the Alumni Fieldhouse.

It was a small setback for the Centaurs who celebrated earlier in the week.

The Centaurs (8-2) picked up that all-important eighth win of the season and improved to 2-1 in Division I of the Eastern Connecticut Conference with a 3-0 win over Fitch on Wednesday at the Alumni Fieldhouse.

The win qualified Woodstock Academy for a Class L state tournament berth.

“It’s a blessing for sure considering last year,” said Centaurs coach Adam Bottone. “I don’t want the girls to get comfortable and think it will be easy from here on out. We still have a lot of work to do especially with a couple of players out and players learning new roles.”

The Centaurs had to work hard for the win.

They posted 27-25 victories in the first two sets and finished with a 25-21 win in the third.

Mia Sorrentino got the start and put down 15 kills.

“Mia had a really good game, stepped in and did a good job. I really liked that she was aggressive with swinging and I hope that carries over,” Bottone said. “Defensively, Leila (MacKinnon) did a phenomenal job with passing and receiving. She kept us in a lot of plays.”

Morgan Bonin added six kills and four digs while Sophie Gronski contributed 24 assists and six digs.

Nothing has come easy for the Centaurs of late.

On Monday, they were taken to five sets for a third consecutive match and the fourth time this season.

And for a third time, they were successful with a 3-2 victory over East Lyme at the Alumni Fieldhouse.

The marathon matches, Monday’s took over two hours to play, should pay dividends in the future for Woodstock Academy.

“I think it will help down the road because having the tough competition and having to play for a longer amount of time will help us get into shape for when we go to States. Those games will be a lot more difficult,” said Woodstock Academy sophomore Liliana Bottone.

Woodstock Academy edged past the Vikings, 15-13, in the fifth and decisive set to post the hard-earned victory.

East Lyme won the first set, 25-21 but the Centaurs took the second 25-21 and third, 25-16. East Lyme forced the tiebreaker with a 25-14 victory in the fourth set.

“There is a lot of pressure, you’re shaking a little bit but it’s all worth it when you win,” Bottone said.

East Lyme had defeated the Centaurs twice last season.

“It’s always nice to defeat East Lyme, defeat a divisional opponent. They’re a good team and we always seem to struggle with them. At times, we struggled (Monday). They, definitely, got the better of us in that fourth set. We struggled with receive. I knew it would be difficult, but I’m glad we hung in there,” Woodstock Academy coach Adam Bottone said.

Bonin had 22 kills and eight digs to lead Woodstock Academy, playing mostly the outside hitter role.

“That was a change that I made last match because when she was forced to pass, she passed a 2.5 out of 3 which is a full passing point above anyone else on the team pretty much,” Adam Bottone said. “I figured we could utilize her better on the outside and have her pass and, at the same time, I can use her on the front row with Reegan (Reynolds) in the middle which gives other teams a different look.”

Liliana Bottone added 13 kills, 13 digs and five aces and Gronski tossed in 35 assists and 17 digs.

Five sets to start the week.

Five sets to end it.

Griswold won the first two sets, 25-16 and 25-23.

But, even with their backs against the wall, Woodstock Academy fought back.

The Centaurs won the next two sets, 25-20 and 25-19.

But Griswold jumped out to an 8-4 lead in the fifth and final set and held on for the 16-14 win to keep its spotless record intact.

Gronski had 26 assists and 23 digs in the loss while Bonin and Sorrentino each had 11 kills.