Volleyball: Masuk rallies to beat Warriors in five games

Masuk rallied from two games down, and then fought off two match points in the fifth game, to beat the Wilton High volleyball team 3-2 in an epic non-league match on Monday night at Wilton’s Zeoli Fieldhouse.

The final scores of the match were 18-25, 26-24, 18-25, 25-14, 19-17.

It was the fifth loss in a row for the Warriors, who dropped to 4-8. Masuk improved to 8-5 with its fifth straight win.

The Warriors were down 13-9 in the final game before rallying to take the lead, but couldn’t close things out at 15-14 and 17-16, before the Panthers ended the match with a 3-0 run.

“I told the girls that game five was going to be about which team made the fewest amount of mistakes and unfortunately for us we made more mistakes in game five,” said Wilton head coach Steve Brienza. “We got behind and came back, which was great. We had match point and opportunities to win the game and we just didn’t close it out.”

The Panthers, after a disastrous end to game three, elevated their play in the final two games to pull out the dramatic win.

“I told the girls after game three that we have to come in and work a little bit harder, control our free balls and serve a little bit better, and that’s what helped us be successful,” said Masuk head coach Bryan Coloma. “I felt so proud of them. Maria Castro-Rodriguez, our junior captain libero, really helped set the tone and they worked together every point.”

In the final set, the Mustangs broke a 4-4 tie with two points, the last on an ace by Paige Hine, to lead 7-5, and went up 8-5 on a block by Brianna Craig. The lead went to 10-5 after a Wilton hit went long, on a point highlighted by a dig by Cassidy Swanson to deny the Warriors a point.

A kill by Craig, a service error by Wilton and net violation on Wilton brought Masuk to within two points of the match, 13-9.

The Warriors stayed alive on a point that seemed lost, as a great defensive play by Johanna Knox kept a ball in play and led to a point to make it 13-10.

A kill down the middle by Kiana Nobumoto, a Masuk misplay, and serve by Sommer Rogg tied the game, 13-13.

A misplay by Wilton brough Masuk to the first match point,14-13, but Nobumoto’s tap into a open space in the middle of the defense tied the scored, 14-14.

Addie Tanzman’s kill off the back line brought Wilton to match point, 15-14, but the Mustangs survived after long point, highlighted by an amazing diving save by Maria Castro-Rodriguez, to re-tie the score, 15-15.

The Mustangs then went up 16-15 but couldn’t close out the match when they failed to get Tanzman’s hit back over the net.

A mishit by Masuk brought Wilton to another match point, 17-16, but a service error tied things up again, 17-17.

Emily Steffens went to the service line and closed out the match with two points. Her first serve hit the top of the net and took a fortuitous roll over the net for an ace, and a Wilton mishit on the next serve ended the game, 19-17, and the match.

“It’s a tough one. We’ve had a few five-set matches that have been tough blows for us,” said Brienza. “I thought they played well. It just didn’t work out in our favor today.”

Wilton jumped out to a 10-2 lead in game one, behind the serving of Juliana Musilli and Rogg, and Masuk never could never climb back in a 25-18 score.

In game two, Wilton used a late 4-1 run to get to game point, 24-20. With the score 24-21, Maria Castro-Rodriguez went to the service line and served five straight points — the last on an ace — for the 26-24 win.

Wilton jumped out early in game three and were up 14-8 after an ace by Musilli. Rogg came to the service line with Wilton up 15-9 and closed it out with 10 straight services points, as the Mustangs struggled getting the ball over the net.

The Panthers regrouped in game four to take an early 6-3 after three straight points by Steffens. An ace by Mary Curry later upped the lead to 14-9 and the Warriors never got closer than four points after that.

For Wilton, Rogg finished with 15 kills, 24 service points (eight aces) and 13 digs, while Musilli had 15 service points (five aces) and 24 assists. Sophie Phelan had 12 digs.

Hine led the Masuk offense with 14 kills, one block and three aces, while Maria Castro-Rodriguez had 18 Digs and two aces. Ana Castro-Rodriguez finished with 26 assists, four digs and one ace.