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  • Greg Lederer

Rams Boys' Volleyball Comes Up Short In Class M Final

After the Class M final, Will Allen receives a volleyball medal from CHS Athletic Director John Perosino. Photo by Greg Lederer.

Connor Hayes puts down a kill in the opening set of the Class M final.

by Greg Lederer

Cheshire Sports Media

After dropping last year’s Class M final, 3-0, to Masuk, the Cheshire High School boys’ volleyball program was driven to redeem themselves in 2024. The Rams accomplished their mission of returning to the title match, but came up just short of bringing home the championship.

In Thursday’s final at Newtown, CHS (third seed, 22-4) fell 3-0 to unbeaten Simsbury (top seed, 23-0).

“I think our season started off very rocky and we ended up going very strong for a very long time and I’m very proud that we were able to get here,” reflected sophomore Bradley Fang, a first-year starting setter. “It sucks that we lost in the end, but it was definitely a great run.”

Coming into Thursday, the Rams had won 14 straight matches, however, they were unable to build extended runs against the Trojans.

In the first set, Cheshire took 1-0 and 2-1 leads on kills by senior Connor Hayes. After Simsbury went ahead, CHS tied the game at 3-3 and 4-4, but the Trojans responded with a six-point spurt.

Cheshire cut the deficit to 16-13 and 20-17, but were unable to draw closer in game one.

“We never got any offense going. We never pressured them,” recalled CHS Head Coach Bavone. “We had five hitters with over 100 kills and we never pushed them.”

In the second set, Simsbury used a pair of 3-0 runs to build a 7-3 advantage that they wouldn’t relinquish.

“We couldn’t really stop some of their runs,” reflected Will Allen, a tri-captain with Hayes and junior Matti Lilback. “We piled on some mistakes. We really didn’t go on many runs of our own. We had good moments obviously. We couldn’t get the job done in the first two games.”

Down 2-0 in the match, the Rams produced their strongest play at the start of game three. Cheshire built their biggest leads at 5-1 and 10-6.

Lilback started the third set with a kill and a block.“In game one and game two, we lacked a lot of energy and that winning drive to go for those balls. In game three, we really went after it and didn’t let any balls drop,” recalled Fang, who served to start the third set. “I just picked up the pace a little bit on my serves and I just went back, didn’t think much about it, threw it down the line, and tried to give the team momentum.”

The Rams found momentum on their side, but Simsbury changed the tempo on a 7-0 spurt to a 13-10 advantage. Senior Adam Vincent served on the go-ahead sequence.

On match point, Vincent returned to clinch Simsbury’s first state crown with a kill.

“It is tough to end that way,” stated Bavone. “They had a great season. We were playing fantastic volleyball at the end of the season.”

Bavone credited the Trojans.

“There is a team that is all seniors. They pulled it out,” reflected Bavone. “(Former CHS Athletic Director) Wayne Candela always used to say ‘you are only as good as your senior leadership.’”

Fang distributed 24 assists and posted four digs in his first state final. Lilback tallied nine kills, three digs, an ace, and a block.

Hayes finished with seven kills, three digs, and a block. Allen earned six digs and five kills, while junior Jacob D’Addona recorded five digs, three kills, and an ace.

Junior Gordon Johns supplied four kills, an assist, and a dig. Junior Jake Tierney added three digs.

Cheshire will graduate Allen, Hayes, Keegan Grace, and Miles Spataj from this year’s team.

“Personally, (I’ll miss) their energy,” stated Fang. “They are just so positive and they bring so much to the team and, secondly, their wisdom and their stability. They are always looking out for the other players, always picking up after other people. It is always great to have them on the team.”

Allen feels good about the Rams returning a lot of players next year.

“The program is a like continuation and a cycle of good vibes and learning from people older than you. I hope I did that and I know that guys older than me did that for me,” explained Allen. “The thing I’ll miss about this program is just walking into the gym with a bunch of people with smiles on their faces and playing a sport that we all love.” 

Friday’s varsity schedule:


After becoming Cheshire’s first Division I champion on Monday, sophomore Julia Paek finishes up the season in the State Open at Mohegan Sun Golf Club in Baltic. Senior captain Jack Brewster will represent CHS in the statewide event.

Start time is 9 a.m.

In the third set against Simsbury, Matti Lilback was pumped after getting a block at the net.

Bradley Fang warms up to play Simsbury on Thursday. Photo by Greg Lederer.

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