Shelton High girls volleyball coach Leanne Bianchine was pleased her team took advantage of a fast start against Career High and coasted to a 3-0 victory over the Panthers in New Haven on Monday.
The road gets decidedly harder, as the Gaelettes (9-2) will visit Cheshire High (11-0) tonight at 6:30 and play host to Amity High (9-2) on Friday at 5:30.
Shelton lost 3-0 to the Rams on Sept. 20, and blanked the Spartans 3-0 on Sept. 29.
“Today was a good opportunity to get in front and then get a look at the future and see what we have,” Bianchine said after every rostered player available took the court in the 25-15, 25-11, 25-12 victory.
“Our next two matches will be great. We took a bite out of Cheshire in game one the first time and we’ll need to switch up some blockers on Wednesday.
“We’ve been passing the ball well, and picked it up serving. I’m keeping them on the ground. The jump serves were good, but then the next one would fly out. It’s better for us to serve from the ground.”
While playing Career (0-10) might have been seen as an easy match, the Gaelettes only had to look to their 3-1 upset loss to Sheehan of Wallingford on Sept. 27, to stay focused.
“Sheehan does that to us every two years,” Bianchine said of the Titans (7-5). “I don’t know what it is, but they always put us in a funk. I told them last time they could throw me in the pool if we get out with a win, and even that didn’t work.”
Shelton’s game one win over Career featured a lot of fundamentals and the first time a Gaelette was credited with a dig and an assist by use of a leg.
“That was unbelievable,” Bianchine said of Kaitlyn Giangregorio’s instinctive reaction, which saw the ball bound to Nicole Beard, who set Francesca Testani for a kill. “I don’t think you’ll see that again.”
Shelton was able to put together multiple-point runs despite some fine back-row play by the Panthers, who eventually lost most extended rallies.
Brooke Grand and Testani had a pair of aces early in game two to take the Gaelettes to an 8-3 lead.
Career closed within 9-5, before Grand had one of her 12 digs and Beard set Dominika Marczak for one of the junior’s nine kills.
Beard (22 assists) served three winners, including a pair of unreturnable spikes from Testani (nine kills).
Saara Vohra helped close things out with two service winners, and Shelton went up 2-0 in games when Giangregorio’s bump found a hole in the Panthers’ defense.
Game three saw Career play very well in the first service rotation.
Emily Rogain (six kills), Nicole Roberts, Gina Orazetti and Victoria Demko led Shelton back and put them in front 15-7.
Marczak had a four-point run from the stripe, Orazetti back-to-back aces, and Testani served Shelton to a 22-10 lead.
Roberts’ net save led to Orazetti’s match-winning kill at 24-12.
Now the Gaelettes can set their sights on toppling their two biggest SCC rivals.
“Both are well-coached and have great players and traditions,” Bianchine said. “Serving has been a strength for us with Gina Orazetti, Francesca Testani and Nicole Beard.
“Nicole is as good as a setter as there is. Francesca has done a better job alternating her spikes to the middle and down the line, and Dominika Marczak has been a big blocker for us.
“Emily Rogain is consistent at the net, and Kristen Sewell isn’t a big hitter, but she knows where to put the ball. Brooke Grand is just all over the place doing a great job on defense.”