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Week 6: WA falls in battle of division leaders in East Lyme

The Woodstock Academy volleyball team was hoping to return from East Lyme with at least a share of the Eastern Connecticut Conference Division I regular season title.

The always tough Vikings dashed those hopes.

East Lyme scored a 3-1 victory over the Centaurs on Friday night that dropped Woodstock Academy to 10-5 overall and 3-2 in ECC Division I.

“It seems like any time we play a divisional opponent in their gym, it’s tough for us,” Woodstock Academy coach Adam Bottone said. “For awhile, we were doing things that weren’t great, but we’re on an upward trajectory with the things we’re doing so we did a lot of good things at East Lyme; defensively, offensively and with our serving and passing.”

Bottone is just looking for a little more consistency.

The Vikings captured the first two sets of the match, 25-22 and 25-21.

But in those sets, Woodstock Academy did go on some runs and led by as many as six points in each only to fall victim to a momentum killer.

“We would have runs of like eight points, be playing great and then a service error at an inopportune time or a ball dropping (to the floor) or we hit one out because we didn’t make the proper contact,” Bottone described.

But Woodstock Academy didn’t leave town without a fight as it rallied for a 27-25 victory in the third set. East Lyme (11-3, 4-1 ECC Division I) won its seventh straight match with a 25-19 decision in the fourth set.

“While we did lose and likely gave them the Division I championship, the progress moving forward into the ECC tournament and, eventually, the States, if we can just fine tune those things that we are just a little bit off on, we will be in a really good place,” Bottone said.

Liliana Bottone paced the Centaurs with 16 kills and 13 digs; Ellie Nunes added 17 digs and Sophie Gronski contributed 28 assists.

Liliana Bottone and Nunes returned earlier in the week after both suffered injuries that had kept them out for a couple of matches.

“Just having their consistency back is good and their return provides me with more depth when people are struggling. I can go to a Mia Sorrentino or move Morgan (Bonin) from an outside (hitter) to the middle. It creates a lot of different scenarios for us,” Adam Bottone said of their return.

Earlier in the week, the Centaurs celebrated Dig Pink Night with a 3-0 shutout victory over Norwich Free Academy.

The win made up for a 3-2 loss to NFA earlier in the season in Norwich.

Nunes, the Centaurs libero, had an injured hand in that first match and was used sparingly.

But she was back to good health this time around and it showed as she delivered eight digs and provided the Centaurs with some much needed defensive play.

Woodstock Academy won the first set, 25-21, and never let up, scoring 25-19 and 25-18 wins in the second and third sets.

Liliana Bottone, herself not too far removed from an injury, contributed a team-best nine kills to go along with seven digs, four aces and a block.

Bonin had six kills while Cassidy Ladd tossed in five digs and three aces.

The Centaurs opened the week with a 3-2 victory on the road at SMSA in Hartford Tuesday.

The host SMSA team took the first set, 25-18, but the Centaurs responded to the challenge by taking the next two, 25-16 and 25-19. SMSA forced the fifth and deciding set with a 25-20 rally but the Centaurs polished off the victory with a 15-10 win in the final.

Bonin paced the girls with 11 kills while Leila MacKinnon added eight.