Central, Holy Cross, Eastern volleyball teams all reach state semifinals

Three area girls volleyball teams punched their tickets to the semifinal round of their respective state tournaments this weekend.

Bristol Central and Holy Cross took care of business on Friday night, then Bristol Eastern joined them in the semifinal round with a win on Saturday night.

The eighth-seeded Crusaders will play fifth-seeded Haddam-Killingworth in a Class S semifinal on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. at New Britain High School’s Chick Shea Gymnasium. The other Class S semifinal between third-seeded Coventry and seventh-seeded Valley Regional-Deep River is set for 7 p.m.  in New Britain.

The Lancers and Rams will play their Class L semifinal matches Wednesday at the same site, Naugatuck High’s Ed Mariano Gymnasium. Tenth-seeded Eastern takes on third-seeded Farmington at 4:30 p.m. Ninth-seeded Central faces No. 12 St. Joseph-Trumbull at 7 p.m.

Here’s what happened to the Rams, Crusaders and Lancers in their quarterfinal matches:


The Rams dispatched the Vikings on their home court in a wild Class L match by scores of 25-22, 29-27, 30-32, 25-23. 

Central (19-8) is into the semifinal round for the second straight season and will try to secure a second consecutive appearance in the Class L final against St. Joseph. The Rams fell to Joel Barlow in last year’s Class L final.

On the match’s final point, setter Alex Rivera ran past the Central bench next to the scorers’ table, and played the ball back in. Emily Fontaine alertly tipped Rivera’s set just over the net on East Lyme’s side. The ball fell in, and the Rams rejoiced after a terrific victory.

Grace Higgins led Central with 27 kills while Lily Kirk added 16 kills. Higgins also led the way in aces with four while freshman Isabella Alves served up a huge three aces. Fontaine had three total blocks while Alves and Ella Pratt chipped in two apiece. Daigelis Figueroa was terrific on defense with 38 digs. Kirk had 24 digs while Higgins and Rivera tallied 15 apiece. Rivera finished with 48 assists to just two errors. Kirk had 33 serve receives, followed by Higgins with 31 and Figueroa with 25.

Friday marked the second straight time Central had defeated East Lyme in the state tournament. The Rams knocked out the Vikings, 3-1, in last year’s semifinal round matchup at Cromwell High School. East Lyme had eliminated Eastern, 3-0, in the quarterfinal round prior to the Central win last year.


The Crusaders rallied from a 2-1 set deficit to beat the upstart Thunderbirds in a great Class S match at the Tim McDonald Gymnasium. The set scores were 15-25, 25-23, 23-25, 25-17, 15-12.

Neither team had dropped a set in their first two state tournament matches, but that changed for Holy Cross when North Branford won the first set. The Crusaders returned the favor in the second set, but the Thunderbirds took the third set. With their backs against the wall, Holy Cross rallied to claim the fourth and fifth sets, and the match.

Antonia Leary had 11 kills and three blocks while Sarah Medeiros tallied 10 kills. Isabella Oliver had 28 assists and two aces, Corinne Lomax added four kills, and Mari Berardis came up big with three blocks.

Holy Cross improved to 19-6 and reached the semifinal round for the first time since 2017. The Crusaders were the 12-seed that year and lost to top-seeded Coventry, the eventual Class S state champion, 3-1.


In the second big Class L upset by a Bell City school on the weekend, the Bristol version of the Lancers downed the Waterford version on the road. The set scores were 25-21, 25-23, 21-25, 25-21.

On the final point, Waterford was able to return the first Eastern hit, but when it tried to do so after the second hit, junior Jamayrie McRae Arroyo blocked the tip attempt and gave her team a huge win and second semifinal appearance in the past three seasons.

Adrianna Reay had a huge night for Eastern (15-8) with 33 kills and 13 digs. Gabby Caucci tallied 15 kills, 12 digs and one ace while Andrea Matir Perez contributed 16 digs and an ace. Naseem Hennouch recorded 42 assists and 12 digs while Samara Paranzino added three aces, three digs and one kill.