Either way, Cheshire High School's perennially strong Rams outlasted coach Lisa Stein's hopeful New Milford High volleyball team in Saturday's taut title match at Berlin High School to capture the state class 'LL' championship.

The state title was the fifth in Cheshire history while the less tournament-savvy Green Wave, to most onlookers ever bit the team to match its rival across the net, settled for the silver plaque.

The final ledger read 25-17, 25-20, 25-20, yet it was really closer than that in spite of a bevy of Green Wave mistakes.

Errant serves, missed communications and netted kills -- all the type of stuff that had plagued its rivals throughout a mercurial 18-4 campaign -- seemed to afflict NMHS in its finale.

Following a 14-2 regular season and a quarterfinal effort in the South-West Conference playoffs, the sixth-ranked NMHS girls had advanced to the state semifinals on the strengths of impressive tournament wins over 11th-ranked New Britain and third-ranked Greenwich.

Then last Thursday, the Green Wave swept past 10th-seeded Shelton, 25-22, 26-24, 26-24, in a semifinal date in Newington.

The championship match thus closed the books on a memorable season for coach Stein and her charges, including seniors Danielle Gasser, Meghan Johnson, Hannelsia Callisen and Kristen Jordan.

That quartet proved integral to the Green Wave's gaudy 33-9 ledger over the past two seasons.

Among their accomplishments was prompting a rise to state prominence for NMHS volleyball for the first time since coach Bill Kraft's squad won back-to-back Western Connecticut Conference titles in the mid-1980s and advanced to the state semifinals.

-- Norm Cummings