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Undefeated Simsbury spikers (22-0) look to win first state title on Thursday

Simsbury senior Adam Vincent (1), who leads the Trojans with kills, puts the ball down in Tuesday night’s Class M semifinal win at SMSA in Hartford.

HARTFORD, June 4, 2023 – With their 22nd consecutive win, the Simsbury High boys volleyball team earned their first-ever shot at the state championship on Tuesday night with a dominating 3-0 win over defending Class M champion Masuk, 25-17, 25-21, 25-17.

The Trojans (22-0) will face No. 3 seed Cheshire (24-3) in the Class M championship game on Thursday night at 7 p.m. at Newtown High.

It’s Simsbury’s first appearance in a title game. It’s the first time in team history that the Trojans have won multiple CIAC state tournament games in a single season.

“We’re so dynamic. We have a lot of really good players on this team and that is what is hard to stop about us,” Simsbury’s seventh-year head coach Brian Leblance said. “You can take away one player but there are three more ready to take that ball (and score).”

Senior Adam Vincent is Simsbury’s most dominating hitter. He had a team-leading 272 kills in the regular season with Anderson Piller getting 137 kills. Adyn Cohen (82) and Cyrus Nash (81) have also been big hitters for the Trojans.

Against Masuk, Vincent was the go-to hitter when he was in the front row but when he moved to the back row, Piller, Cohen and Nash continued to fly to the ball and smack it to the floor.

Cohen leads the team with 55 blocks followed by Bryce Van Meter with 37 blocks and Nash with 27. Aiden Ouellette has a team-leading 173 digs while setter Jason George has 118 digs and a team-leading 568 assists.

“Offense will come and go but if you can get stops on defense, that is what separates you from other teams,” Leblanc said. “They are diving to the floor for every ball regardless of the score.”

After Simsbury won game one against Masuk, the Trojans were on the verge of winning game two with a 24-17 lead. But the Panthers fought off four match points before Nash got a kill to secure a game two victory, 24-20.

Simsbury’s Jason George (4) and Bryce Van Meter (7) are just a second too late to make the block in Tuesday’s Class M semifinal win over defending champion Masuk.

In game three, Simsbury had a six-point lead at 15-9 and began to get some kills from hitters in the middle of the floor. George had three consecutive aces to help the Trojans finish off the Panthers with a 25-17 victory.

Cheshire is making their second consecutive appearance in the finals. A year ago, they were swept by Masuk, 3-0, in the championship match. The Rams are looking for their first CIAC title since 2012.

Matti Lilback is the top hitter for Cheshire with 210 kills and 50 blocks with Will Allen getting 207 kills and 38 blocks. Connor Hayes had 171 kills and 50 blocks with the offense being run by setter Bradley Fang with 575 assists.

In the other state championship game at Newtown, No. 1 Darien (22-3) will be facing against No. 2 Ridgefield (23-1) in the Class L championship match beginning at 4:30 p.m. It’s a rematch of the FCIAC Tournament final where Ridgefield beat the Blue Wave, 3-0, two weeks ago.

Simsbury beat Darien, 3-1, in early April, snapping Darien’s 75-match winning streak, the second-longest streak in Connecticut boys volleyball history. Staples owns the record of 101 consecutive wins set in 2010.

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 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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