GHS volleyball players (far to near) Ryan Barcikowski, Stephen Dayton, and Shaun Kaufhold anticipating a Southington serve during the Guardians three-set win over the Knights on April 4
Glastonbury High School boys’ volleyball defeated Southington in three sets (25-20, 25-16, 25-22) in the team’s season-opener on April 4.
The Guardians senior experience was on full display from start to finish, overwhelming the visiting Knights with power and finesse.
Six of the team’s seven starters are seniors, who all were contributors a juniors during the team's 15-win quarterfinals run last spring.
“We knew we had a lot of experience coming back. That is the difference right now,” said head coach Tony Sanith. “There are a lot of good players in the state but we need to use that knowledge and experience to gain that extra edge. Everyone is physical and can swing hard, but right now it’s about understanding the game and communicating.”
Captains Stephen Dayton, Paul Giliberto, and Eric Rose are guiding an experienced group that performed well, particularly in the biggest moments during the opener.
Dayton had a crucial point in the first set when he hammered home a spike from the left side, putting the Guardians up 21-17. Rose polished off the set with a kill following a nice feed from setter Matthew Herrera.
Giliberto started the second set with four straight service points, including a pair of his team-high five aces, as the Guardians jumped out to a 5-0 lead. The visiting Knights wouldn’t get any closer than four points the rest of the set.
“Since we are very senior-heavy this year we expected to be top level and we knew we had to come out full force,” said Dayton, who moved to outside hitter this spring after starting at libero a year ago. “It’s very nice having a versatile senior class.”
Dayton had eight digs and first-year libero Ryan Barcikowksi added six in his debut.
Sanith said that Dayton is an adaptable player that can contribute in all areas on the court.
“He’s always been knowledgeable and a student of the game. Now he has that experience,” added Sanith. “Having a lot of the guys play club in the offseason there is a lot of interchanging that we could do. They know what their job is and the job of the people next to them because they have had that experience playing those positions. It makes it a lot easier.”
After falling behind 14-10 in the third set, Dayton sparked a rally by blocking a shot, ending a three-point run by the Knights.
Dayton’s block ignited a five-point surge for the home team as Gilberto served up four more points.
Glastonbury ended the match by scoring five of the final six points, capped by a kill from Ryan Hoffman.
Hoffman and Rose are the team’s powerful middle hitters. The duo, who each stand well over 6-feet tall, combined for 11 kills and seven blocks in the victory.
“It’s always good to be very physical. Being that tall and that strong, they are going to be our main firepower” said Sanith. “Having them back and being as big as they are is a big plus for us. I think they will be one of the best tandem middles in the state.”
Sophomore Shawn Kaufhold is the only non-senior starter. Kaufhold looked calm and collected making his first start, serving up an ace and adding three kills and a block.
Sanith was impressed with his first-year starter, saying “He took his time and let the game come to him and did a great job. We wouldn’t have won 3-0 without the way he played.”
Dayton added that the seniors have welcomed the sophomore starter, saying that Kaufhold has fit right in the group.
During the Class L state tournament last spring, Glastonbury also eliminated the Knights in Southington, who were ranked ahead of them. Southington always fields a competitive squad and the opening win was a good measuring stick for the team.
“We needed a big win to start the season and it lit a fire under our team,” Dayton said about the opening win.
Sanith added, “It should build our confidence and show that we are what we hope we are, which is one of the top teams. Beating a program like Southing helps tremendously. We just have to maintain it and keep it going.”
GHS made it two for two, beating Maloney in three sets on April 6.
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin