In her four-year career with the Weston High School volleyball team, senior Christina Welsh had never gotten past the quarterfinals of the state tournament until Friday night. Welsh, a senior hitter, played a large part in helping the Trojans get there.
Weston, the No. 12 seed in Class M, took out No. 13 Tolland, 3-0, with scores of 25-18, 25-22 and 25-16. Welsh smacked down 16 kills, including the match point to send Weston into Wednesday's semifinals.
"It feels great, especially after the loss to Newtown (in the SouthWest Conference playoffs," said Christina, who added six service points, two aces and three blocks. "We really wanted to do well in states after that."
The five-set loss to Newtown in the SWC semis served as the team's defining moment. It proved Weston could play with elite teams, and the Trojans rode that momentum in the Class M playoffs. Weston has won 10 of its last 11 games after losing four out of five games early in the regular season.
"I've got a lot kids new to the varsity on the floor, and they needed time to develop confidence with each other,'' coach Jamie Charles said. "We've worked a lot on our serves, and that really paid off tonight."
Tolland (13-6) enjoyed a height advantage. After dropping the first two games, the Eagles tried to extend the match with a win in the third game and trailed 15-14 midway through the match. Two points by Haylee Winikoff extended Weston's lead to four, and sophomore Hannah Ashmore went on a five-point run at the service line to put Weston up 24-15.
Ashmore collected six kills, nine digs, 10 service points an ace and five blocks while Lili Clement contributed eight kills, 15 digs, seven service points and an ace. Jessica Gersh had 30 assists, 10 digs, nine service points and four aces. Savannah Carpenter and Frances Holmes combined for 11 blocks.
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