STAMFORD — One of the most important factors in winning NEPSAC girls volleyball championship is staying off the bus.

Home games are a gift. And home contests where the opponent has to drive more than two hours to reach your gym are a treasure.

The King girls volleyball program moved from Class C to Class B for the 2019 NEPSAC Volleyball Tournaments.

However, the No. 1 seeded Vikings kept their homecourt advantage.

King dispatched No. 8 seed Middlesex School of Concord, Mass. in a 25-16, 25-20, 25-14 sweep Wednesday night in the NEPSAC Class B quarterfinals before an adoring partisan crowd.

“We love playing here. It’s our house,” King senior co-captain Catherine King said. “It’s going to be a tough goodbye to this gym for myself and Ruby (fellow senior co-captain Ruby Bienen). We want to go out on a high note.”

Catherine King, Bienen and the rest of the 2019 King squad will have one more home match this season in front of family and friends.

No. 1 King (17-3) will host No. 5 Rivers School of Weston, Mass. in Saturday’s NEPSAC Class B semifinals at 1 p.m. Rivers went on the road Wednesday to defeat No. 4 Winsor of Boston 3-2 (15-13 in Game 5). Rivers is 15-5 overall and 14-1 since October 5.

All four NEPSAC Class A, B, C, D championship finals are set for Erickson Gym at Loomis Chaffee School in Windsor on Sunday. The Class B final is set for around 1 p.m.

Even though it is King’s first year in NEPSAC Class B, the Vikings are on a historic volleyball quest.

King will be vying for its sixth consecutive NEPSAC championship.

“This year in Class B we are facing a host of new schools,” King coach Tung Tran said. “Our matches are filled with lots of unknown factors. Our mission is to be good representatives as the No. 1 seed.”

Middlesex, which closed out its season at 11-6 overall, didn’t deter King from success Wednesday night.

The Zebras, who won the NEPSAC Class B Girls Volleyball title three seasons ago and lost in the Class B final two seasons back, brought a young roster just beginning to write its own postseason history.

King jumped out to leads of 7-0, 14-5 and 17-9 in Game 1. Middlesex got as close as 21-15 before falling, 25-16.

In Game 2 with the score tied 6-6, King fashioned a 13-4 surge for a 19-10 edge. Middlesex got as close as 23-19 before falling 25-20.

In Game 3, with Nicole Salantay serving, King rolled to a 10-0 cushion. The Vikings decided to let some of their reserves get a taste of postseason experience as Middlesex closed to 13-8.

The King starters returned to build a 21-10 lead before earning the sweep at 25-14.

“We graduated everyone from our NEPSAC title team,” Middlesex coach Ashok Pillai said. “Last year we were 7-9. So we’re happy to have taken another step and qualified for the NEPSAC playoffs. King is a very disciplined team. They play their system very well. They have some big hitters but mix their intentions up very well. They have no real weakness.”

rdepreta

@stamfordadvocate.com

KING 3, MIDDLESEX 0

MIDDLESEX 16 20 14—0

KING 25 25 25—3

Records: Middlesex 11-6 overall, King 17-3 overall.

Highlights: K—Nicole Salantay 5 kills, 18 service points, 5 aces. Sophia Pigott 15 digs. Norah Shattan 7 kills, 9 assists. Ruby Bienen 10 kills. Catherine King 14 assists, 5 service points, 2 aces.