More to it than a volleyball match
A presence of purple filled the James Richetelli Sr. Gym at Jonathan Law on Oct. 22, when the Law and Foran High girls volleyball teams met for the second and final time during the 2014 season.
After a dedication of the Maren Sanchez Memorial Garden, honoring the Law teen-ager who died last April at the school, the rest of the evening served as a way to keep her name alive.
Maren’s favorite color, purple, could be seen everywhere from spectators to game officials.
Foran captured the match on set scores of 25-14, 25-10 and 25-20 to improve its record to 14-5. Law, which went on to defeat neighboring Stratford of the South-West Conference 3-0, closed out its season at 3-17.
“With everything that went on today, the Memorial Garden dedication and it being Senior Night, I thought we played pretty well in this match,” said Law coach Stacy Loch.
“We really battled in that third game. Our players communicated well and moved the ball well. It was an extremely emotional night for us, so I think at times we as a team we’re having trouble keeping that in check.”
After losing the lead twice in the third set, at 3-2 and 8-7, the Eagles kept coming back. They surged in front on a kill by Megan Gritz and stayed ahead before a tipped ball by Foran’s Brooke Gauthier brought the Lions even at 14-14.
From that point on, Foran held on despite the fact that Law was able to draw to within a point, 21-20, by forcing a Lion error.
“We worked the ball nicely to both the middle and the outside in the third game,” said Gritz, one of three seniors (the other two being Kayla Patrick and Martha Smith) who were recognized before the match.
“Maren was a great person and someone that all of us loved,” Gritz said. “She will remain forever in our memories.”
With powerful net play from Janae Owen (13 kills), Kelly Hunt (nine kills) and Kayla Ellis (eight kills), the Lions had little trouble in winning both the first and second sets. They never trailed in either one.
“This group has definitely exceeded my expectations,” said Foran coach Julie Johnson. “We lost eight players from last year’s team. But, early on, I saw how well this group was beginning to mesh. Each one seemed to hold the other one accountable.
Foran’s senior setter, Jenna Zaccarelli, had 35 assists and, when someone was needed to plug up the middle, and get digs, it was senior Ashley Mendillo who stood out.
“We’re absolutely proud of what we have been able to do this year,” Mendillo said. “Tonight’s win was not only good for our program, but having a night like this (in Sanchez’ memory) brings our community together. Law gave us a very tough time in that third game.”
“Ashley is the workhorse on this team,” Johnson said. “She’s never been afraid to dive in order to save balls. We need that kind of leadership, both on and off the court.”
In addition to the play of Gritz, who had five digs to go along with her 12 kills, Heather Sherrick had 15 assists, four digs and two service aces while Kailee Frank and Patrick combined for 17 digs.
Foran defeated Branford High, 3-0 (25-20, 25-19, 25-16) in the first round of the SCC playoffs on Saturday.
Jenna Zacarelli had 41 assists for the sixth-seeded Lions (15-5), who will visit third-seeded Mercy High in Middletown at 5:30 on Oct. 28.
Janae Owen had 15 kills and three service aces and Kala Ellis 14 kills against the 11th-seeded Hornets (9-10).
Jonathan Law defeated Hillhouse High from New Haven, 3-0 (25-10, 25-14, 25-18) on Oct. 20.
Molly Vargo was 11-for-11 serving with three service aces. Heather Sherrick had 19 assists and nine digs. Renee Lynch had 10 kills and three digs. Kailee Frank had 13 digs and four kills. Vargo had nine digs and eight kills.
Law closed its season with a 25-22, 25-14, 25-14 over Stratford High on Oct. 23.
Vargo had 17 digs and seven kills, Megan Gritz 17 kills and 15 digs, Martha Smith nine digs and a pair of service aces and Kayla Patrick 11 digs.