Bristol Central girls’ volleyball had a run to remember this postseason

The Bristol Central girls’ volleyball team was on a postseason run that was unprecedented in program history.

On Saturday, the Rams ran into a buzz-saw named Barlow, as in Joel Barlow. The top-seeded Falcons swept their way past the seventh-seeded underdogs from Bristol, 3-0, and capped off an undefeated season with a Class L state championship at East Haven High School. The set scores were 25-13, 25-20, 25-23. Barlow finished with a record of 24-0 while Central ended up 19-8.

The Falcons won the first set handily, but the Rams didn’t make it easy on the top seed after that. Central was within three points, 23-20, in the second set before Barlow scored the last two and claimed a 2-0 match lead. In the third set, the Rams ripped off an 11-2 run and forged a 23-21 lead. Central was within two points of winning the set and getting the match back to 2-1, but Barlow was too tough. The Falcons, who didn’t lose a set in the state tournament, closed out the match and claimed their second championship in program history.

“Most wins in school history (19), broke a 28-year streak, CCC South Champions for the first time ever, Class L finals appearance and a season full of memories!” read a tweet from the Central girls’ volleyball team account. “Could not be any prouder of this program and all they have accomplished this season!”

Saturday’s match was the last for Central seniors Brooke Valentino, Olivia Clingan, Maddie Lodovico, Sam Sklenka and De’Ana Powell. What this Ram senior class accomplished was incredible, and they did it in less than three years.

“So proud of BCVB’s effort against a very tough Barlow squad,” read a tweet from Bristol Central principal Pete Wininger. “What an amazing season for our seniors to end on. Thanks ladies and Coach (Lance) Pepper!”

Lodovico played the most during the COVID-shortened 2020 season, when Central went 11-2. Clingan, Valentino and Sklenka saw limited playing time.

In 2021, the Rams went 14-6 in the regular season, including a 10-6 mark in the CCC. Central qualified for the CCC tournament as the No. 11 seed and battled No. 6 Glastonbury before falling, 3-2, in a first-round match. The Rams were the No. 15 seed in the Class LL state tournament and took down fellow CCC team Farmington, the No. 18 seed, in a 3-0 sweep. Central was eliminated by second-seeded Greenwich, 3-0, in the second round.

This season, Central again went 14-6 in the regular season. That included a 12-4 mark in the CCC, where the Rams earned a No. 8 seed in the tournament. Central defeated ninth-seeded Manchester, 3-0, in the first round before top-seeded RHAM-Hebron eliminated them by the same margin in the second round.

Central had advanced further in the CCC tournament than the year before, but what happened next in the Class L state tournament was just magical. The Rams were seeded seventh and defeated No. 26 Ledyard and No. 23 E.O. Smith-Storrs in the first two rounds. Central then took out No. 2 Suffield in the quarterfinal round and No. 3 East Lyme in the semifinal round to reach the state final for the first time in program history.

In the last three seasons, Central posted a combined record of 45-18. That’s pretty good, and the Rams culminated that run by playing for a state championship. Central girls’ volleyball has a lot to be proud of.

PHOTO CREDIT: Bristol Central girls’ volleyball via Twitter