Nov. 20—EAST HAVEN — Ally Hadley was shocked when she heard it announced that she was the Most Valuable Player of the Class M state tournament championship match Saturday night.
The best news for the RHAM High girls volleyball team was that it was the only surprise of the Raptors' tournament run.
Hadley (12 kills, 16 digs) recorded a double-double as No. 4 RHAM captured its second straight state title and ninth overall with a sweep of second-seeded Woodland at East Haven High. Game scores were 25-13, 25-22, 25-21.
"Everyone here has the same goal," Hadley said. "People stepping up in key moments, and they've done it all year, is why we're here. That helps us become the team we are.
"We had so many people step up tonight and they had their time to shine, so when they called my name it was a surprise." Hadley added with a smile.
The MVP award is the second in a row for Hadley. The senior was selected a year ago after leading the Raptors to a win over Simsbury in the Class L tournament final.
RHAM (24-3) did not lose a set in its four Class M matches and took out the top two seeds — Seymour and Woodland to finish the job.
"It's definitely different but still the same feeling," Hadley said. "To do it back-to-back, it feels amazing."
She got plenty of help.
Junior Lani Fecho (17 kills, 13 digs) also recorded a double-double while sophomores Neve Tyler (22 digs) and Nina Jobes (27 assists) were consistent through. Seniors Sarah West (6 kills) and Caelyn Calhoun (6 kills) delivered in key spots.
RHAM coasted through the first set and scored the first five points of the second set. Woodland (24-3) scored eight unanswered points — with Raptors' coach Tim Guernsey using both his time outs of the set to try and slow the momentum — to take a lead but a pair of Hadley kills capped a 7-1 response to put RHAM back in front. A Fecho kill wrapped up the second set.
The Hawks led by as many as six in the third set and was in control at 16-11 before RHAM put together a charge.
"We've been through a lot of high-intensity situations, high-tense stakes," West said. "Our experience from being in the finals or even watching it when we were young made a difference. It really helps us."
Four straight serving points from junior Marina McLaughlin tied it. A Hadley serve and back-to-back kills from Calhoun put the Raptors ahead to stay. A block by sophomore Alison Polochanin clinched it.
"We stayed the course and stayed consistent," Guernsey said. "We weren't bothered by being down at any time."
The Class M title is RHAM's fifth to go with the four in a row from 2007-10. Its other four titles were won in Class L.
"I think this showed what we've been working for all season," Fecho said. "We've put the time in on working together, pulling together, when it gets tough. We know we have to play as a team if we do get down and use our energy to push through."
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