East Hampton sophomore Olivia DeMartino gets ready to bump the ball as teammate Emily Tinson looks on during the Bellringers three set victory over Cromwell on Sept. 21.
East Hampton girls’ volleyball defeated Cromwell in three sets (25-21, 25-10, 25-10) on Sept. 21 at EHHS, sweeping a match for the first time this fall.
The Bellringers used a spectacular service game to beat their Shoreline Conference (SLC) foes, serving up 24 aces in the victory, which improved the team to 4-1.
Sophomore libero Olivia DeMartino tallied a dozen aces and junior Chelsea Woods added seven aces in the victory.
Head coach Molly Grabowski said that the performance was the best she had seen her team serve through the first five games, adding, “We have been working on serving aggressively, so I was definitely pleased with that.”
After falling behind 6-2 in the opening set, DeMartino had nine straight service points, including four aces.
East Hampton would not trail the rest of the set or at any point for the entire match.
Grabowski didn’t use a timeout during the slow start, instead letting the team work it out together on the court.
“A struggle is good. I can’t fix everything,” said Grabowski. “I want them to know that they can handle it.”
Woods, the team’s setter, dished up a game-high 23 assists and added a team-high five digs. The junior had a pair of assists to start the second set, which continued the home team’s momentum through the set.
Fittingly, DeMartino ended the third set and the match with an ace.
Senior Jenna Murphy, who is captaining the team with her twin sister Jordan Murphy and Reagan Burt, had six kills. Sophomore Sonja Venetainer added a half dozen kills as well.
Grabowski credited her captains, who are the team’s only three seniors, for continuing to produce on the court while mentoring the younger girls.
“This year is a more mature group. I think they are smarter,” stated Grabowski. “I think they play better and trust each other better.”
Grabowski pointed to Burt’s defense as being a difference-maker, saying she has been “a lot more aggressive” and “a lot more vocal” this season.
Last fall, the Bellringers won 12 of 17 regular season games and a pair of state tournament games, advancing to the Class S quarterfinals.
Grabowski returned the bulk of starters from a season ago, losing only all-conference libero Julia Borrelli from the starting lineup.
With plenty of experience returning, the Bellringers have started the 2022 season by winning four of their first six games this fall.
Jordan Murphy leads the team in kills, averaging three per sets, and Jenna Murphy has posted a team-high 13 blocks on the front line, while Woods leads the team in both assists and digs on the second level.
“I think they have become more and more disciplined and I think they are able to be flexible and responsive,” stated Grabowski, who added that she likes how the team has gotten better in each match. “They need to continue to grow their confidence out there. They are a very strong team and they play together, and I think they need to know it.”
The Bellringers welcome North Branford to EHHS today (Friday, Sept. 30) for a match at 7 p.m.
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Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin