HIGH 5 OF THE WEEK: Bryan Ballenilla, Karissa Smith, Adrianna Mihalek, Brianna Root, Spencer Johnson

With the fall college sports seasons underway, my “High 5 of the Week” makes its return.

This week’s quintet is Bryan Ballenilla, Karissa Smith, Adrianna Mihalek, Brianna Root and Spencer Johnson.
Ballenilla (WCSU athletics)

Bryan Ballenilla, Western Connecticut State University football

The former Wilby standout is expected to be a big piece of the defensive puzzle for WCSU, and the junior did not disappoint in Week 1.
Ballenilla tallied seven tackles to go along with two sacks in a 35-31 Colonial comeback victory over Hartwick on Saturday evening at WCSU. Ballenilla’s two sacks combined to drop Hartwick back 13 yards.
Last season, Ballenilla played in all 10 games and recorded a team-high 11 sacks. He was third on WCSU with 49 tackles. He caused two fumbles and recovered one.
Ballenilla is a defensive end and is listed at 6-2, 220 pounds.

Smith (WCSU athletics)

Karissa Smith, 
Western Connecticut State University volleyball

WCSU is off to a 3-1 start, and the former Bristol Eastern star Smith is a big reason why.
Smith leads the team by a wide margin in kills with 67 and is third in digs with 41.
Smith has started all four matches for WCSU, and the 5-11 senior outside hitter has led the team in kills in each one. She had a high of 25 in a 3-1 win over Simmons on Saturday. Her other totals were 16, 11 and 15.
Smith was named the Little East Conference Offensive Player of the Week today. She was also named MVP of the Colonial Classic, a tournament hosted by WCSU.
WCSU’s three wins came in its Colonial Invitational. The Colonials return to play on Tuesday against Emmanuel at home at 7 p.m.

Mihalek (ECSU athletics)

Adrianna Mihalek, Eastern Connecticut State University volleyball
ECSU jumped out to a 4-0 start before a 3-2 loss to Kean on Sunday in the SUNY Morrisville Tournament in New York.
Senior outside hitter Adrianna Mihalek is one major reason for the Warriors’ hot start. The former Holy Cross student-athlete almost put ECSU in the victory column Sunday with 22 kills, 14 digs and two service aces. The 5-8 Mihalek leads the Warriors in kills with 64, is second in digs with 54, and is tied for second in service aces with seven. The 22 kills against Kean is by far a season-high for Mihalek.
Mihalek is a History major and is looking to go into Law for a career.

Root (Post athletics)

Brianna Root, Post University volleyball
It comes as no surprise that sophomore setter Brianna Root is right in the middle of it for Post women’s volleyball.
The former Bristol Eastern star has a ridiculous 170 assists through four matches. Post got off to an 0-2 start, but won two matches over the weekend in the Long Island Invitational to even its record. Root leads in that category, is tied for second in service aces (four), and it’s fifth in digs (36).

Johnson (Marist athletics)

Spencer Johnson,
Marist College cross country

The former Bristol Central standout is in his senior season at Marist, and he started it off well this past weekend.
Johnson finished sixth on Saturday at the Marist Invitational, run at Vassar Farms in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. Johnson ran a 6K (a little over 3.72 miles) in 19:22.5, or an average of 5:11.8 per mile.
Marist finished first as a team, claiming eight of the Top 10 spots. The Red Foxes take a break from competition before coming back on Sept. 16 for the Rider Invitational in Pennington, N.J. Johnson will be closer to home on Sept. 24 for the Ted Owen Invitational, which is held in New Britain.

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