Conard hosted a competitive Simsbury team in West Hartford last week.
By Noah White
On Monday, May 8, the Conard boys volleyball team squared off with Simsbury in a match with conference title implications.
Conard, entering with a 7-1 conference record, and Simsbury, 8-1, were expected to trade points set-after-set. Conard had a different plan.
Conard began the match with a serving run from setter Julian Hartland, allowing them to get a quick, tone-setting lead. As the first set continued, outside hitters Jayden Du and Tristan McClay were consistently able to find spots in Simsbury’s defense, allowing Conard to drag out a 25-21 win.
The second set was much more similar to what was expected entering the match, with Conard dragging out a 28-26 set win after an extended back-and-forth.
After such a tight win in set two by Conard, Simsbury thought it might be possible to turn the tide entering a third set, but Conard made sure this wasn’t the case. Hartland got Conard middle hitters Dominic Belyaev and Rafael Ortiz Jr. involved throughout the third set, putting even more pressure on the Simsbury defense to remain firm. Ultimately, however, it was McClay, who finished with 17 kills, who closed the set and game for Conard, allowing the team to strengthen their place in the running for a CCC title.
This win over Simsbury was amid a run of five straight victories for the Red Wolves, including defeating Newington and last year’s CCC champion, Glastonbury. Conard has had to respond to some mid-season hiccups against strong teams like Southington and New Britain and has done so due to strong coaching from head coach Kerry Roller and assistant coach Doug Sekorski, as well as good leadership from captains Max Riker, Jayden Flores, and Aaron Ngo.
Conard has three remaining regular-season matches: two against Enfield and one against crosstown rival Hall on May 19. If they were to win these games, it is likely they would have a top-two seed in their conference tournament (May 24–26) and a real possibility of a conference title. After that, the state tournament will begin on May 31 and finish with the championship on June 8.
Conard has put together a strong season thus far and has begun to hit their stride recently, so look for more news about them in the next couple of weeks as the season closes.
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