Shelton High’s boys volleyball team defeated visiting SCC opponent Xavier of Middletown 3-0 (25-20, 25-14, 25-21) on Monday night to improve to 6-8 overall.
Jarrett McCurdy logged 11 kills, 10 digs and two aces. Tyler Nolan registered 22 assists to go along with seven digs and a pair of aces.
David Niski had five kills, four digs and an ace. Jordan Peck compiled 10 kills, five blocks, two digs and two aces. Skyler Kim had 14 digs.
Xavier led 12-8 in game three before the Gaels used a 14-4 run to seize a 22-16 lead.
Kim’s service point made it 14-13 Gaels. A diving save by Kim led to a block at the net for a point by Nolan for a 15-14 edge, after Xavier had tied the score.
The Gaels extended the lead to 17-14 on a kill by Peck followed by an ace by Nolan. The Gaels, sparked by a Niski kill, went up by six.
Xavier hung around and eventually closed to within 23-21, before a long-reach kill by Nolan was followed by Niski’s match-ending spike.
“We were hitting well, finding ways to score. Jordan and Tyler really connected today,” Shelton coach LeAnne Bianchine said.
Bianchine said her team served the ball well after the first set and that the defense, led by Skyer, Luke Ferrigno and Niski, was key in sparking the offense.
“You can’t run an offense without a defense. You can’t hit the ball without a pass,” Bianchine said. “I think we were able to push points tonight and didn’t let them open the door back up.”
The work of Niski, the teams’ setter, also stood out.
“Our setter really connected with our middle,” Kim said.
That allowed Peck and McCurdy to pile up the points with spikes over the net.
The Gaels have four matches in five days this week.
The Xavier match, along with Friday’s visit to Xavier, at 5 p.m., count in the Southern Connecticut Conference standings.
“It’s going to be a workout for us,” Bianchine said. “This was huge.”
The Gaels, following non-conference clashes with Newtown, Oxford and Joel Barlow of Redding, also have SCC tilts with Cheshire and Amity of Woodbridge on the slate. After losing their first four matches and batting some injuries the Gaels have put themselves into position to qualify for the postseason.
“We’re in good shape. We had some obstacles but we overcame them,” said McCurdy, a captain who was among those sidelined early on in the campaign.
Shelton needs two more wins to ensure a state playoff berth, and Bianchine believes two victories the rest of the way should get her team into the conference playoffs as well.
“This was very important,” captain Austin Viveiros said of the win over Xavier, adding that serving and covering were strong points for the Gaels in the match.