DARIEN -- Darien High School's girls volleyball team took a step toward another conference title or make that a share of the FCIAC championship crown - with a 3-0 (25-19, 25-16, 25-9) win over visiting Ridgefield in the tournament quarterfinals-turned-semifinals on Tuesday afternoon.
Because of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy causing local schools to be closed for a week or so, postponing tournament games and limiting opportunities for squads to get games in before the start of state tournament play, it was decided that the FCIAC tourney semifinal round winners would be called co-champions. That means the semifinals will essentially serve as championship matches.
"One down, one to go," Darien senior captain Riley Sousa said after the win.
Top-seeded Darien was scheduled to square off against No. 5 Greenwich on Wednesday at Fairfield Ludlowe High School, but the snow has postponed the matchup until Thursday night.
The result was not available at press time. For a full game story, visit www.dariennewsonline.com
Against Ridgefield, Sousa had seven kills, nine digs and eight service points. Kelly Kosnik had six kills, six service points and 11 digs. Claire Naughton added six kills, five stuff blocks and a block assist. Setter Kathleen Burke racked up 26 assists for the Wave.
"It feels good that we get to live another day," said Kosnik, another of the team captains.
Things were perhaps a little too close for comfort in the early going for the 18-0 Blue Wave. Once they pulled through in the opening game, however, the team started to take control and pulled away by the third game.
Ridgefield, which went 11-7 in the regular campaign, will now wait for the start of state tournament action to return to game play.
In the close-out game, Darien jumped out to a 7-1 lead and was in command throughout. One of the strong points for the Wave was the team's service and serve receive game. Darien was led by senior Callan Clasby's nine service aces. Darien handled Ridgefield's offerings to keep the ball in play and set up clean looks at high percentage kill attempts.
"We can kind of control the game when we're on top of those things," Sousa said.
Clasby compiled five of her aces in a pair of dominant spurts in the final game of the match. She had three consecutive aces to help Darien build its early six-point advantage to begin the match. She closed out the win with the last two points of the match coming on aces.
Burke made a save of a ball that hit off the facing of the net, keeping a volley alive, and that led to a Darien point, and Sousa's diving effort set up Kosnik's dink for another as Darien turned an 11-6 lead into a decisive 22-7 advantage.
Darien will strive to continue its winning ways both in the FCIAC semis and in the upcoming state tourney. Clasby said "just playing our game like we normally do in practice," is what it will take to win.
Of course, there hasn't been much practice of late. The area teams got back to their preparation for matches only a few days ago.
"It was really fun to get a game in," said Sousa, alluding to the unwelcomed week-plus layoff from matches and practices resulting from the storm. "It's not like we had a disadvantage. Everyone was affected by it."
Kosnik said that the team members will have to support each other, as they have throughout this campaign, for the Wave to continue to roll along.
"Whomever we're playing is definitely going to come to play so we'll definitely have to bring our best game to win," Sousa said before hearing the outcome of the No. 5 Greenwich-No. 4 Trumbull match.