Five-game match goes to Law Eagles
Brooke Bonetti epitomizes the defensive stature the Jonathan Law girls volleyball team likes to take against all its opponents.
Compact in size with a good, low center of gravity, combined with strength and balance, Bonetti is the perfect specialist (libero) for getting to, blocking and saving hard shots from the opposition.
The senior did her job in almost perfect fashion on Oct. 15, as the Eagles pulled off a mild upset in defeating cross-town rival Foran High, 3-2, on the Lions’ Senior Night.
Bonetti had 28 digs in leading the charge and Law took the deciding fifth game, 15-13, and in the process, won their eighth game of the season to earn a trip to the state tournament.
“We’ve been focusing our practices lately on defense,” said Law coach Stacy Loch. ‘We’re coming up against some teams with big front-line players (of which Foran has four in Fallon Bevino, Janae Owen, Abby Amann and Kelly Hunt).
“We knew heading into this match that we couldn’t wait. We needed to make a move now to get into states.”
Law showed poise and control in the game’s opening set. The Eagles jumped out quickly, leading 7-3 on a kill by another senior, middle hitter Jenna Bernard (six kills, two blocks, 10 digs) and kept the pressure on.
A winning spike by Colleen Bogucki (20 assists, three blocks and two kills) made it a 13-5 margin for Law, and Foran could never get closer than 10 points before eventually losing 25-15.
“It was so important to do that (win the first game),” Bonetti said. “When we played them in our gym (back on Sept. 25) they swept us, 3-0. We really wanted to come in here tonight and make a statement. That first-set win just boosted our confidence.”
It was also a sobering experience for the Lions, who took a 9-4 record into the contest.
Foran bounced right back, as junior libero Dani Kemp provided the spark it needed.
“I kept her out of the first game because I wanted to play all of my seniors (there are eight on the squad),” said Foran coach Julie Johnson. “That was the only reason. I don’t think that their win (Law’s) in that first game was that vital.
“It was an emotional night for us with the seniors being honored. And, notoriously, we’re a slowing-starting team.”
With Bevino hammering home five of her game-high 16 kills (an honor which she shared with Owen), the Lions rebounded. They took the initial lead, lost it at 4-3, gained it back at 6-5 on a Bevino kill and went on to win 25-22.
It appeared that a momentum switch was in order after Foran grabbed the lead early on in the third set, and held it until committing an error when Law pulled even at 14.
One play prior, Bogucki had a service ace which fired up her team. The two squads again went even at 15, before Foran ran off four straight points, highlighted by kills from Bevino and Lucy Weissauer, for a 19-15 advantage.
But the Eagles dug in, made defensive plays, and forced Foran into net errors.
Law took the lead, 22-21, on a block by Molly Vargo, then fought its way through two ties (22-22 and 23-23) and finally emerged on the lead side, 24-23, when one of Foran’s servers put the ball in the net.
Law won the set, 25-23, gaining a point while Bogucki was serving.
Now needing a win to stay alive, the Lions got a good start once again in the fourth set, going up, 9-5, before Law came storming back.
The Eagles forged ahead, 11-10, on a Foran error before a kill by Bevino made it 11-11.
Foran regained the lead on a point by Amann (she had 13 kills) and never trailed the rest of the way, winning 25-21 on a kill by Hunt.
Foran broke out to a 5-2 lead in the deciding (15 point) fifth game when Bevino drove home a shot.
But the resilient Eagles weren’t about to go away. They forced two Foran errors, took a 9-7 lead before fighting off two ties (10-10 and 11-11) to secure a 12-11 lead.
A service ace by Christina Macaluso and another Foran miscue made it 14-11 and put the Eagles on the brink of victory.
Foran hung tough, got the sets’ next two points, making it 14-13.
Not to be denied, Law’s defense again set Foran up and a net error by the Lions gave Law the win.
Bonetti played a huge part in it. “It almost felt like she had 100 digs instead of 28,” Loch said. “She played that well.
“We know what’s at stake for us over the rest of this season. This has to be a confidence builder, because we not only beat one of the best teams in our conference but we defeated the best team in our division.”
Bevino, Amann and Weissauer were recognized before the match along with five other seniors, Brianna (Bryzy) Gonski, Kaylee Ciolino, Kelli Zahariades, Paige Raucci and Janie DiNatale.
Colleen Bogucki had 23 assists in the Eagles’ 17-25, 25-12, 25-19, 26-24 loss to Daniel Hand of Madison on Oct. 16.
Jenna Bernard had eight kills and Kailee Frank had seven kills for Law.
Law defeated North Haven, 3-1, on Oct. 21.
Bogucki had 21 assists, while Bonetti (14 digs) and Becca Minihan led the defense, as the Eagles improved to 10-8.
Dani Kemp had 26 assists when Foran defeated Branford, 3-2, on Oct. 21.
Lucy Weissauer had nine kills and Jenna Zacarelli had 19 digs for the Lions (11-6).