The Rocky Hill girls' volleyball team knew once they got to the fifth set, the game was theirs.
It did get to a fifth set, and the Terriers went on to beat Joel Barlow of Redding 3-2 to become Class M champions and win their first championship in girls’ volleyball in school history Saturday afternoon at Wilby High School in Waterbury.
"The fifth set is our time," said head coach George McKinnon. "It has been our time all tournament. I told them five, five, five is our time and no one is taking it away from us."
In all four of the Terriers' tournament games it came down to five sets, and each time, Rocky Hill prevailed.
"These girls never quit. They worked hard and always believed we were going to get it done," McKinnon said. "And we got it done."
The Terriers, the fifth seed, came out of the gates hot and appeared to be firing on all cylinders as they took the first set 25-9. However, Joel Barlow, the No. 2 seed, would bounce back to take the next two sets 25-22 and 25-21.
In the fourth set, it appeared that the Falcons had the match in hand and Rocky Hill was down 15-20 when McKinnon called a timeout. The Terriers battled back and would take the set, 25-23.
"It was close, but you have to close out," said Joel Barlow head coach Steve Antal. "We just couldn't close out."
The fifth set was point for point until the Terriers took an 11-9 lead. The Falcons called a timeout, but they could not stop Rocky Hill's momentum. With an electric crowd behind them, the Terriers would eventually take the final set 15-11, and with it the Class M title.
“I guess five games is our style,” captain Kyley Reed, who was named the most valuable player. “This is amazing.”
"Kyley is probably the best player in the state," Antal said. "They just kept going to Kyley and she basically carried that team on her back."
However, at times, the Falcons were able to hold Reed in check. Antal said that the Terriers are a “solid team.” Rocky Hill captain Megan Ruonavaara added that “everyone contributes,” which helped lead them to victory.
The Terriers have gotten used to playing from behind and going the distance.
“We definitely had our backs against the wall the entire tournament,” Ruonavaara said. “It definitely took a lot out of us, but we dug down deep every time and pulled through.”
Antal said the game came down to "defense and serving," which were areas that the Falcons struggled in throughout the match.
When the season started, McKinnon had a feeling about this team.
"We knew we had a special team this year. We worked hard from day one. And this is what happens: a state championship."