There were moments when the Cheshire boys volleyball team let down its guard for short runs Friday night and seemingly was going to let Glastonbury get into a flow and disrupt the inevitability of the Rams hitters.
The No. 1 seed Rams responded each time and continually had answers for everything the Tomahawks threw at them.
Playing without Joe Bahgat, one of its strongest hitters and the MVP of the SCC Tournament last week, Cheshire used its superior depth and leaned on 6-foot-10
junior Nate Howard a little more than usual in sweeping Glastonbury 3-0 by game
scores of 25-16, 25-17, 25-17 in a CIAC quarterfinal at Cheshire High School.
Cheshire (20-0) advances to the semifinals Tuesday against No. 4 Ridgefield (17-3) at a site and time to be announced.
"The first game we were a little rusty, we haven't played for eight days, so I was a
little concerned about how we would come out with that kind of a layoff," Cheshire head coach Sue Bavone said. "And also with Joe Bahgat being injured (back) and being out of the lineup. We plugged in a sophomore outside who did a great job, Evan Colechia.
"But after that first game we started getting our rhythm, we shook the rust off a
little bit. We really played well. We have a lot of depth, so we're very fortunate."
Cheshire fell behind in the first game 5-3 but tied it at 7 and then took the lead on
Howard's serve with four consecutive points for an 11-7 advantage. The Rams
opened five-point leads of 16-11, 18-13 and 19-14 before winning six of the game's last eight points.
Howard had four of his 17 kills in the first game and one of his two blocks. Cheshire received contributions from some familiar and not so familiar players. Ryan Cuppernull had 13 kills, two blocks and four digs, K.C. Philcox seven kills, five blocks and five digs and setter Ray Brumleve 32 assists. And first-time starter Colechia finished with eight kills and three blocks.
Glastonbury (11-8) kept the second game close as late as 13-10, but Cuppernull served eight straight points, including an ace, to open it to 21-10. The Tomahawks made a mini-run to get it to 23-16 but then Cheshire closed it out.
The third game was all Cheshire early, then Glastonbury again came within 13-10 and 15-12, but the Rams were relentless winning five straight points on Tyler
Swiegard's serve to make it 20-12. The Tomahawks made one last push to 22-14,
but Cheshire squashed it.
"Glastonbury had a lot to do with that," said Bavone of her team's sometimes streaky play. "They pushed us out of system a lot and we sometimes passed it well
and sometimes got caught off-guard and our offensive flow was disrupted. But
when we were passing well we had good offensive flow."
Donald Colebrook led Glastonbury with six kills, Matthew Cyr added five and Josh Pierpoint had 14 assists. But the Tomahawks were no match for the Rams this night.
"They're solid. Cheshire teams always have really good defense," Glastonbury coach Pat Ryan said. "When you tack on a couple of really big guys, they're pretty difficult to contend with. I have two to three first-year players on the floor at any one time this year, lack of experience that worked against us."
"Glastonbury is a very strong program, well-coached but they're young, and that's the difference," Bavone said.