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RHAM tops Avon in CCC semifinal to earn another trip to the finals

Avon’s Emily Dempsey had a game-high 15 kills but defending CCC Tournament champion RHAM eliminated the Falcons in Thursday night’s CCC Tournament semifinal game, 3-1. More game photos

AVON, November 7 – The RHAM High girls volleyball team is no stranger to the championship game in the Central Connecticut Conference tournament. The Sachems have played in the last five CCC Tournament finals and have won the last three tournaments.

RHAM got on a run in the fourth game Thursday night in the CCC Tournament semifinals and pulled away from host Avon to earn a 3-1 decision (25-18, 15-25, 25-18, 25-22) and earn a spot in the finals for the sixth straight season.

RHAM, the No. 3 seed in the tournament, will face top-seeded Bristol Eastern (21-0) in Saturday’s championship match in Avon beginning at 6 p.m. The CCC East champion Sachems are 19-1.

Game four was tied 12-12 before the Sachems went on an 8-0 run to take command of the match. Kaglin Hadley had two of her six kills in the RHAM surge. The Sachems pounded the ball from the middle of the court and the Falcons couldn’t stop them.

“They had some great servers and we had trouble breaking (the run),” Avon High coach Curt Burns said. “We were right there and then (RHAM is ahead) six points. It’s hard to come back on a great team like that.”

Avon’s Abby St. Onge goes up for the block against RHAM’s Zoe Partkinson (33) in Thursday night’s CCC Tournament semifinal in Avon. More game photos

Trailing by eight points, Avon hitter Eliza Jones had a kill to stop the RHAM run. Avon scored nine of the next 12 points to cut the lead to two points, 22-20. Avon’s Emily Dempsey had three of her game-high 15 kills to help fuel the comeback rally.

A net violation gave RHAM a 23-20 lead but Dempsey got another kill and served an ace to cut the lead to one point, 23-22. But that is as close at the Falcons (19-2) would get.

“We had a goal to play in the CCC final and the place would have been rocking against Bristol (Eastern) but we didn’t get there,” Burns said. “We still have bigger fish to fry. We have a lot of time to get ready for the state tournament.”

The Falcons will be seeded No. 2 in the CIAC Class L tournament behind No. 1 Bristol Eastern and just ahead of No. 3 RHAM. If both teams win their opening games, the two CCC rivals could meet in the Class L semifinals.

But they will have to get there. Avon has a first round bye and opens play in the Class L tournament with a second round game on next Thursday, Nov. 14, at Avon High.

RHAM’s Bella Johnson (21) had five kills in Thursday night’s win over Avon. More game photos

Hannah Mullarey led RHAM with eight kills while Bella Johnson added five kills. Dempsey led the Falcons with 15 kills while hard-hitting Baylee Braun had 10 kills. St. Onge had an eye-popping 31 assists in the contest while Jones had six kills.

Avon really struggled to pass in the ball in a 25-18 loss in the first game of the five-set match. The Falcons serve well in game two to take a 25-15 victory. Avon scored 10 of the last 14 points in the game.

Avon got behind in game three before cutting the lead to three points, 15-12. But the Sachems scored seven of the next nine points to take a commanding 21-14 advantage.

“We can’t hang our heads in shame,” Burns said. “They’re a great team. They’ve been in (the CCC tournament) finals before. We’re trying to get to their level.”

Avon may get another shot at the Sachems. Bristol Eastern, Avon and RHAM are the top three seeds, respectively, in the upcoming Class L tournament according to unofficial CIAC tournament playoff rankings. If both win their first two matches, they could meet in the Class L semifinals.

The Falcons celebrate after putting down a kill on the floor in Thursday night’s CCC Tournament loss to RHAM. More game photos

NOTES: Avon was looking for their first CCC Tournament final. … The Falcons were in the semifinals for the second time since they joined the league. Avon advanced to the semifinals in 2015. … Bristol Eastern returns to the final for the first time since 2013 when they last won the CCC Tournament title.  … RHAM beat Farmington in last year’s CCC Tournament final

2019 CCC girls volleyball tournament
Monday’s first round
(1) Bristol Eastern 3, (16) Farmington 9 (25-21, 25-23, 25-23)
(9) Glastonbury 3, (8) Newington 2 (12-25, 25-17, 25-18, 21-25, 15-13)
(5) South Windsor 3, (12) Wethersfield 0 (25-12, 25-18, 25-16)
(4) Conard 3, (13) Southington 0 (25-18, 25-22, 26-24)
(3) RHAM 3, (14) New Britain 0 (25-14, 25-8, 25-14)
(6) Bristol Central 3, (11) Enfield 0 (25-8, 25-21, 25-18)
(7) East Catholic 3, (10) Platt 0 (25-23, 25-23, 25-20)
(2) Avon 3, (15) Berlin 2 (12-25, 25-17, 25-18, 21-25, 15-13)

Tuesday, November 5
Quarterfinals
At higher seed
Bristol Eastern 3, Glastonbury 1 (25-11, 20-25, 25-21, 25-18)
Avon 3,  East Catholic 0 (25-21, 25-11, 25-21)
RHAM 3, Bristol Central 1 (25-15, 25-21, 20-25, 26-24)
Conard 3,  South Windsor 0 (25-13, 25-19, 25-10)

Thursday, November 7
Semifinals
At Avon
Bristol Eastern 3, Conard 1 (25-10, 25-18, 19-25, 25-23)
RHAM 3, Avon 1 (25-18, 15-25, 25-18, 25-22)

Saturday, November 9
Championship
At Avon
Bristol Central (21-0) vs. RHAM (19-1), 6 p.m.

 

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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