Boys volleyball: Maybe you aren't always what your record is

SHELTON — The 3-0 loss Shelton High suffered at the hands of visiting Masuk of Monroe on Wednesday is quite deceptive. The match, which featured closely-contested game scores of 25-23, 29-27 and 25-19, was a microcosm, in some ways, of Shelton’s season thus far.

“Our record, to me, doesn’t reflect what a good team are, how well we play together, things we accomplish together,” said Shelton coach LeAnne Bianchine, whose squad fell to 4-8 overall.

After all, Shelton has a pair of hard-fought 3-2 setbacks — one to Cheshire and the other to Masuk in their first go-around. And in the rematch with Masuk, just a point here or there was the difference between the Gaels being up two games to none with a chance to close out the victory in game three.

Shelton fell behind by several points in game two then clawed to within 20-18 on a Max Klein ace. The teams traded points before Shelton evened the score at 22 behind a Luke Ferrigno kill followed by a Skylar Kim ace.

The Panthers went up 24-22 only to see Shelton score the next three points. Masuk extended the match three times after Shelton took one-point leads. With the score 27-26 Shelton, a diving play by Kim kept a rally going, but Masuk got the point to even things at 27. A block at the net for a point by Masuk’s Tristan McDonough gave the Panthers the lead. Masuk got the next point to go up two games to none.

“We just have to find a way to put teams away. We’re trying to find that killer instinct,” said Bianchine, adding that many of her team members are new to playing varsity volleyball together this season.

In game three, the Panthers jumped out to a 4-1 lead after Andrew Ruggiero had back-to-back aces. Kills by Jordan Peck kept the Gaels close before Masuk went on a 10-0 run. Strong serving, including an ace by McDonough enabled the Panthers to seize control.

The Panthers and Gaels went back and forth. It was 20-11 Masuk before Shelton got as close as 22-17 on a David Niski kill. Masuk finished things off when McDonough hit a smash for the final point.

“Very competitive. They’re always competitive,” said Masuk coach Polo Castro, adding that Bianchine is a great coach. “She’s very intense and calls timeouts when she had to. When the game was on the line we played better.”

McDonough had 18 kills and three aces. Alden Snajder logged 18 digs for the Panthers.

Kim had 12 digs and a trio of aces. Max Klein logged 11 digs and two aces. Niski had nine kills, four digs, two aces and two blocks. Matt Tokarski had 12 assists. Jordan Peck had five digs, five blocks, three kills and two aces. Jack Gangi had four blocks.

“I’m very confident in the rest of the season. They can compete,” Bianchine said.