Volleyball: Rams rally from two games down to shock Wilton

After his team dropped the first two games to Wilton, New Canaan volleyball head coach Kevin Marino made sure his players knew the match was far from over.

It was a message the Rams took to heart, sweeping the final three games for a 16-25, 22-25, 25-21, 25-20, 15-11 win on Tuesday night in Wilton.

“We have the tendency to get down on ourselves, so I really just wanted them to stay up on every play, no matter what happens, and put the last point behind them, good or bad,” said Marino. “I told them to fight for every single point. They had some resiliency today.”

Both teams are now 3-2 on the season.

Carson Allsteadt was a force on the attack for the Rams, especially in the final games, with 20 kills to lead the comeback She also finished with 19 digs. Jessica Parrino had nine kills, 19 digs and five aces, and Caroline Eno had three kills and three blocks.

After Wilton used outstanding offense (five aces, nine kills) to easily win game one, the second game went down to the wire. The Rams led 22-21 before Wilton scored the final four points, with the final three points on serves by Alison Wenman, including an ace.

New Canaan got off to a quick 9-1 lead in game three behind an excellent serving run by Parrino, and led 23-13 before a late Wilton run cut the lead to 24-21. Allsteadt closed out the game with a kill.

The Warriors got off to an early advantage in game four, leading 13-9 before the Rams scored four straight to make it 13-13. The final points came off another powerful kill by Allsteadt, who later had two more kills and an ace to give New Canaan a 19-16 lead.

Wilton appeared to have tied the game at 19-19 but lost the point on a net violation, and a couple of Wilton misplays sealed the fourth game for the Rams.

In the final game, New Canaan had a key 5-0 run — four off the service of Emma Wheeler — to build a 9-3 lead. The lead was 10-5 when Witon reeled off four points on an ace by Yashika Nana and a couple of plays at the net by Sommer Rogg, cutting the lead to 10-9.

New Canaan ended the run thanks to a play at the net by Venae Rosdahl, and two points on plays at the net by Eno got the Rams to 13-9. Wilton rallied to cut the lead to 13-11 but the Rams scored the last two points, including a winner inside the line by Parrino on match point, to close out the game and match.

The Rams’ defense in the final three games keyed the turnaround, holding down a Wilton attack that was rolling in the first two games.

“We tried to make some positive adjustments in terms of where we thought they were hitting the ball. They have some great hitters over there. The defense held true finally and they did their job, and that’s what we stress — do your job and the rest will take care of itself,” said coach Marino.

For the Warriors, who were looking to go to 4-1, it was a tough loss to absorb.

“Volleyball’s a funny game. Sometimes things go your way, sometimes they don’t,” said Wilton head coach Steven Brienza. “We started fast, which was one of our goals going in. We got ahead early in (game) one and we got ahead early in two, and then in (games) three and four we just weren’t as precise with our passing. Our offense just didn’t run as quickly as it needed to, and we just couldn’t find those empty spots on the floor to create points.

“I’m not going to discredit New Canaan,” he continued. “They played excellent defense and they tightened up in (games) three, four and five, and that was the difference. They kept putting the ball back over the net, and we made some unforced errors in timely spots.”

Rogg had a powerful game for the Warriors with 21 kills, in addition to nine service points (six aces) and 11 digs. Juliana Musilli finished with 23 assists to go with 12 service points (five) aces and two digs, while Sophie Phelan had 15 digs and five service points.