Bristol Central girls volleyball extends historic run, reaches its first state final

It hasn’t been the greatest postseason for local high school sports teams this fall.

Outside of swimming and diving, there’s one team left, and that’s Bristol Central girls’ volleyball. The third-seeded Rams made history when they reached the state semifinal round for the first time with a 3-1 road win over second-seeded Suffield on Nov. 12.

Central continued its historic run Wednesday night with a 3-1 win over third-seeded East Lyme at Cromwell High School. The Rams won by set scores of 25-15, 25-15, 22-25, 25-17. Central (19-7) will play for its first volleyball state championship against top-seeded and undefeated Joel Barlow-Redding (23-0) on Saturday at 1 p.m. at East Haven High School.

Trailing 24-17 in the fourth set, East Lyme’s Shaelin McMunn served to Central. Maddie Lodovico received the serve and sent it in the direction of setter Alex Rivera near the net. Rivera put up a perfect pass to Lily Kirk, who rocketed a kill to the back right side of the court. The match-clinching kill set off a celebration from the Rams and a sizable contingent of supporters.

East Lyme reached the semifinal round by knocking out No. 11 Bristol Eastern, 3-0, in a home quarterfinal on Nov. 12. The set scores were 25-12, 25-16, 25-10. Lilli Lowe, Sarah Lacouture, Lauren Bender and Alyssa Valentine all played in their final match for the Lancers (13-9).

Here’s what else has happened recently in the state tournament, starting with Nov. 10:


#22 St. Paul 1,
#6 Morgan-Clinton 0: Emily Walker scored for the Falcons in their Class S second round road win over the Huskies at the Indian River Complex.
#2 St. Joseph-Trumbull 8, #15 Holy Cross 0: The Crusaders (12-7-1) graduate seniors Ava Genovese, Jenna Tracey, Jadan Izzi, Kaya Bonderenko, Liza Ngandu, Juliana Dane, Cailyn Gorman and Reese Becker.

#7 Bristol Central 3
, No. 23 E.O. Smith-Storrs 0: The Rams swept the CCC foe Panthers by scores of 25-12, 25-17, 25-9.
Brooke Valentino and Lodovico had 11 kills apiece to lead Central. Valentino served four aces while Olivia Clingan added three aces. Valentino and Rivera each had 16 digs while Sam Sklenka chipped in 15. Rivera recorded 35 assists.
#11 Bristol Eastern 3, #6 Stratford 0: The Lancers swept the Red Devils of the SWC by scores of 25-15, 25-18, 25-10.
Bender paced Eastern with 16 kills while Gabby Caucci added nine kills. Alyssa Valentine, Emily Valentine and Lacouture all had four aces while Jayna Hatcher and Kamila Mateo-Rivera each had a pair of block assists. Alyssa Valentine dished out 27 assists.


#3 Thomaston 2, #22 St. Paul 1 (2 OT): Walker struck again and gave the Falcons a 1-0 lead with just over 15 minutes left in the first half.
Unfortunately for St. Paul, the hosts from Thomaston had the answers with the equalizer in the second half and the winner with just over 20 seconds remaining in overtime. The Falcons (8-11-1) graduate seniors Vanessa Visconti, Tessa Strasser, Eva Bagdasarian and Natalia Riemer.

PHOTO CAPTION: The Bristol Central girls volleyball team poses for a photo following its Class L state semifinal win over East Lyme on Wednesday night at Cromwell High School. (Credit: Pete Wininger via Twitter)