The Shelton High girls volleyball team staved off an upset bid from Norwich Free Academy on Monday night in the first round of the Class LL state tournament at Murray Gymnasium. The No. 26 seed Wildcats took the seventh-seeded Gaelettes to the brink, fighting off a pair of fifth-game match points before Shelton prevailed 3-2 (25-21, 24-26, 25-15, 21-25, 16-14). \u201cI kept telling them it\u2019s up to you now, the game is on you,\u201d Shelton head coach LeAnne Bianchine said. \u201cYou know who the hitters are, stay in control\u2026 Stay focused and stay in control, I think we did a good job of that.\u201d Jessica Jayakar, who served out the victory in game five, powered the Gaelettes with 18 kills and 15 digs. Sara DeMarco notched 34 digs, two aces and one kills and Jess Foss added five aces, 14 digs, one kill and 34 aces. Maya Conley led NFA with 31 digs and 12 kills; Eliana Jenell had 22 digs and 13 kills and Bella Llano chipped in with three aces, 11 digs, three kills and 20 assists. Shelton will host No. 10 seed Amity High of Woodbridge (17-6) on Thursday in a second-round matchup. \u201cFor both teams, just a fantastic match,\u201d Bianchine said. \u201cThey gave us a run, they made us work. And it\u2019s good because we\u2019re going at Amity for the fourth time on Thursday. After four times, we\u2019ve got to go catch them. The Spartans have defeated Shelton three times this season, twice in the regular season and again last week in the semifinals of the Southern Connecticut Conference tournament. Facing NFA (8-13), Shelton looked to be on its way after a resounding 25-15 win in game three. A kill by Reem Abdel-Hack gave the Gaelettes a 13-9 edge, sparking a 13-6 run to close out the game. Jayaker, Clarissa Pierre and Elizabeth Casinelli provided the last three points, before the Wildcats dug in for game four. Service miscues plagued Shelton during the fourth game, helping NFA to force the winner-takes-all fifth set. \u201cServing has been a little bit of an issue\u2026 We play really great like we did in game three, then disappear in game four,\u201d Bianchine said. The Wildcats jumped out to a 6-3 advantage in game five, forcing Bianchine to call a timeout. An ace from Eliana Jewell then made it 11-8 NFA, leading to another Shelton timeout. Pierre responded by winning serve back, with the Gaelettes pulling even at 11 on DeMarco\u2019s trip to the service line. NFA took its final lead at 12-11, before Abdel-Hack\u2019s block capped a three-point burst for Shelton. The Wildcats showed their grit by tying it at 14, but Shelton was able to withstand the upset bid with two more points. \u201cThey stay together always and they got it done,\u201d Bianchine said.