Guardians volleyball after defeating New Britain to finish 14-0 at GHS this spring.
The boys’ volleyball team at Glastonbury High School won every game at home this season, capping the undefeated mark at GHS with a three set (25-16, 25-17, 25-21) win over New Britain in the second round of the Class L tournament on June 6.
Senior middle hitter Eric Rose led the way with 13 kills and four blocks as the Guardians won their 14th home game.
“It could have been our last game, so we put it all out there,” said Rose.
The No. 2 Guardians, who finished 18-0 in the regular season, held off a talented No. 10 Golden Hurricane’s squad that came out of the gates like a ball of fire.
Feeding off the energy of a boisterous visiting cheering section, New Britain scored five of the first seven points to take an early advantage.
GHS head coach Tony Sanith called a timeout to remind his team of the pre-game strategy, adding, “We start off slow a lot. We are very skillful but we don't always apply the game-plan early.”
Glastonbury responded, scoring nine of the next 12 points, highlighted by a six-point run.
Ryan Hoffman started the scoring surge with a thunderous spike. On the ensuing point, Stephen Dayton and Ryan Barcikowski each made diving saves before Paul Giliberto ended the point with a kill.
Later in the set, Hoffman—who finished with eight kills—had another monstrous spike that caromed off a New Britain player and flew into the stands.
Giliberto ended the opening set with one of his team-leading three aces.
New Britain’s senior captain Jose Anthony Alemeda, who finished with a game-high 21 kills, took over early in the second set with consecutive spikes to again give the road team an advantage.
The Guardians would once again rally, scoring 16 of the final 24 points to secure the set.
Giliberto served out the set with a pair of winners.
In the third set, Glastonbury controlled the tempo for a majority of the frame until New Britain made one final push, scoring three straight to narrow the deficit to 21-19.
Sanith called one more timeout, knowing the importance of finishing the match in three sets.
“I didn’t want New Britain to have any momentum winning a set because they clearly have a lot of talent this year and I don’t want to overlook anything,” said Sanith.
The team responded as Dayton had a pair of winners before Rose ended the set and the match by blocking a kill attempt.
Rose said the team talked about neutralizing New Britain’s outside hitters, adding, “We were just trying to focus on blocking them.”
Barcikowski, who played libero and led the team with seven digs, said the team adjusted to New Britain as the game went on.
“Each of them hit a little differently. Some hit deep, some hit shallow, and we just had to know who was hitting. We just didn’t want the ball to hit the ground,” recalled Barcikowski.
The home win turned out to be the last victory of the season as the Guardians, who lost the following day to No. 3 Trumbull in four sets during the Class L semifinals at Southington High School.
It ended a banner season for a team that was unblemished in the regular season and then swept through the Central Connecticut Conference (CCC)—defeating Simsbury, Southington, and Enfield to win the CCC crown.
The 23 total wins marked a new high and the semifinal appearance was the programs first since 2015.
Along with winning every regular season game, the team won an astonishing 54 of 60 sets during the 18 games.
Sanith will lose six of their seven starters and eight players total. Rose, Hoffman, Dayton, Giliberto, Barcikowski, Matthew Herrera, Jack Niland and Shawn Kaufhold will be the departing seniors.
Rose (262), Dayton (192), and Hoffman (128) led the team in kills, each averaging over two per set. Rose and Hoffman also combined for over 100 blocks this spring.
Giliberto had a team-high 72 aces, averaging one per set, and led the team with nearly 500 assists.
Barcikowski led the team in digs and was one of three players (Dayton and Giliberto) to surpass the century mark in digs.
Sanith said the seniors helped the program pick up the pieces after the lost season to Covid in 2020, adding, “They put Glastonbury volleyball back on the map, at least at our school, so hopefully more athletes come in and see that this could be a good program for the long run.”
“These seniors are a great group of guys and you can tell they are super close on and off the court,” added Sanith. “You can’t ask for more than these seniors.”
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin