When you're playing on a team that has essentially set the golden statewide standard, it's always going to come with just a bit more attention, pressure and buzz.
The Darien girls volleyball team, which ran roughshod over its competition last season en route to an undefeated season, an FCIAC title and a Class LL state championship crown, is certainly no exception.
"It was amazing. Working with all the seniors, they pushed us hard so it was a lot of fun," said Celia Martzolf, a junior captain and setter. "We really have to work hard now that a lot of the seniors are gone. We need to keep up that energy."
According to Nicole Schmidt, an outside hitter and the other of the team's two captains, Darien doesn't shy away from the spotlight, and the goals remain the same.
"We worked really hard last season and it definitely paid off in the end with the undefeated season," Schmidt said. "Goals are very similar. We want to make sure the team is always trying its hardest. It's definitely a motivation to do well for ourselves and for the tradition of Wave volleyball."
The potential title defenses won't come without new faces, however, as Darien lost seven seniors, including Kelly Kosnik and Riley Sousa, among others, to graduation.
Their departures, however, have seemingly opened the door to competition for starting spots, something which Martzolf believes will only benefit her team in the long run.
"There are actually a lot of starting spots open, so anybody can get them any given day," Martzolf said. "There's a lot of fighting between spots."
While neither captain mentioned the word "undefeated," it's rather obvious that Darien fully expects to be right back in the championship picture.
"In Darien volleyball, we're always like a family so we always have good connections with each other and there's not any problems amongst players," Martzolf said. "On the court we always have each other's back, and it's been that way all throughout the history, not just this year."
The road to the top won't come without opposition, however, as Staples figures to be right back in the mix and could potentially be Darien's biggest threat in the FCIAC. The Blue Wave takes on the Wreckers on Oct. 11 at Darien High School.
"I'm especially excited for Staples because I know they have a lot of returning players," Martzolf said. "Last year was a really big game and I know this year will be the same."
"I think we're definitely willing to work hard even though we are a young team," Schmidt said. "We saw what we had to do last year to accomplish our goals, so this year we know exactly what we have to do."
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