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ON CAMPUS A look at the area college sports scene

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Volleyball preview: A bird in the Hand; Amity's horror



Class M

The quarterfinals are set for the CIAC boys' volleyball tournament and the draws yielded some mixed results. First of all in the Class M brackets, Hand coach Tom Brady had to be doing cartwheels to draw the No. 3 seed.
Hand tied with Maloney-Meriden at 14-4 for the season and won the coin toss (or the computer program tiebreaker) to be the third seed. That is perhaps the biggest victory the Tigers could have had all season. What it means is that Hand draws a struggling Farmington team in the first round and then meets Enfield in the semifinals. Last year Hand defeated Farmington on its way to the Class M state final and both teams have lost players since then but Farmington is clearly on the decline. Expect the Tigers to roll to the semifinals.
Up next would most likely be Enfield which is 17-1 but played one of the
weakest schedules in the state. Enfield's only loss was to Glastonbury. Enfield defeated aforementioned Maloney 3-2 but the Spartans were missing one of their best players on the day.
The biggest advantage Hand will have is, of course, not having to face
mighty Lewis Mills-Burlington until the final.Hand lost to Mills in last year's final and should get there again. Mills hasn't lost a match all year and is the clear choice to repeat as the state champion.
Now one could argue that Hand's season was saved by the coin toss but
keep in mind that the Tigers did go into Shelton and won for the first time in their program's history late in the regular season.Without that result Hand would have been the fourth seed but they beat Shelton while Maloney lost to both Southington and Glastonbury in the final week of the season.
Expect the Tigers to make another appearance in the state finals led
by star outside hitter Randy Johnston. I do, however, expect the same result once there -- another Mills title.

Class L

While Hand benefited from the tiebreaker, the same cannot be said for Amity in the Class L.
The Spartans beat a stubborn Hall-West Hartford team in the first round Wednesday and now has to face Trumbull in the quarterfinals. If Amity survives that match it most likely would meet undefeated Staples in the semifinals.
Ouch.
If Amity wins that match it will probably have a great shot in the final as most of the best teams are in the same half of the bracket. But getting there will be difficult for the Spartans which lost its coin flip to Glastonbury. The Tomahawks are good but nothing like the powerhouses in the top half of the bracket.
Shelton could be the beneficiary in lower half of the Class L brackets. The Gaels blanked Newington 3-0 in the first round and now face second-seeded Ridgefield in the quarterfinals. I like their chances there and, in fact, to get all the way to the finals as their 13-4 record which earned them a seventh-seed could turn out be more fruitful than Amity's 15-3 mark and its fourth seed.
My pick is Staples to beat Shelton in the final but Amity really could win it all this year.

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