Schools Sports

Simsbury Shows Hall Why It’s a Title Favorite

Daniel Jopeck of Hall goes up against Simsbury's Anderson Piller. Hall vs. Simsbury boys volleyball. May 8, 2024. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

The Trojans sweep Hall Wednesday night in West Hartford.

Gavin Kaminski goes up for the winner for Hall. Hall vs. Simsbury boys volleyball. May 8, 2024. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

By Paul Palmer

It would be easy to look at Wednesday’s boys volleyball matchup between Simsbury and Hall in any number of cliches. Sampson vs. Goliath may be one of the most appropriate as the 13-0 Trojans met the 7-5 Titans.

It’s about more than records. Simsbury boasts 10 seniors on its squad of 13 ( the others are all juniors), while Hall has four seniors on the roster. Where the two sides were even could be found in determination and spirit, and willingness to do what had to do be done on each point.

In  the end, Simsbury would sweep 25-10, 25-18, 25-8 with the second set showing what Hall is capable of now and has to grow on in the future.

Hall and Simsbury players battle at the net. Hall vs. Simsbury boys volleyball. May 8, 2024. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

“Things we talked about in practice yesterday, I saw them executing them in the games today and that means they are accountable,” said Hall head coach Elena Pevar of the squad. There is a spirit among the Hall players, celebrating each point, picking each other up – sometimes literally – and just not quitting no matter the opponent or the score. “I need to see that they want it, and they showed that today,” Pevar said.

In the first set Simsbury showed why it is one of just two unbeatens in the state. Crisp passing, smart decision-making, and a mixture of service helped them build leads of 8-3, 15-3, and 18-3 before losing serve. Hall would get back to 19-6 before losing serve and eventually falling 25-10 when Simsbury’s Anderson Piller’s shot could not be returned by Hall.

The second set was the most entertaining and the most closely contested of the three that were played. “We talked after the first set and fixed some passing that allowed our hitters to get in rhythm,” Pevar said.

Marco Mendoza had the deep kill at 5-3, and teammate Elias Drummond converted the set from Isaac Drummond to get Hall within two points at 6-4. The Trojans went out to an 11-7 lead, before Mendoza beat the block by dinking the ball just over it. Hall could not hold service and would be down 14-9. Behind the serving of Aidan Ouelette the lead built up to 19-10 and Hall would get that down to 19-12 before losing service.

At 20-13 Caleb Salomons managed to serve the Titans 20-16 before Cyrus Nash delivered the winner for Simsbury. At 23-18, Zach Alvarez would serve it out for the visitors, including an ace on the game point. The set featured some longer rallies, and good net play by both sides both on offense and setting effective blocks. It was here that Simsbury’s experience and better skills were the difference against a Hall team that did not give an inch.

Atis Watt prepares for the return vs. Simsbury. Hall vs. Simsbury boys volleyball. May 8, 2024. Photo credit: Paul Palmer

In the final set, the Trojans raced out to leads of 6-2, 10-4, and 16-3 when Hall returned the service into the net. Bryce Van Meter had one of the set’s aways when he went deep down the line to win back the service for Simsbury at 17-4. Atis Watt  would get Hall to 7-19 with an ace before Van Meter delivered another huge, left-handed spike.

At match point Hall managed to get a block up on a Simsbury return, but the ball fell out of bounds to end the day.

“Our goal going forward is to play games that we feel proud of,” Pevar said.

Hall has four games remaining including a finale against 10-2 and fourth-ranked Conard on May 16. Right now, Hall sits at one game over 0.500 and was ranked 12th before the loss to Simsbury. A team needs to win 40% of its games to qualify for the post-season tournament so the remaining slate will decide the Titan’s fate.

“These players all have a common goal and they all want to work,” Pevar said. “That’s what makes it so special to me to be their coach.”

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