Darien volleyball falls to Ridgefield in Class L finals
Published 3:14 pm, Wednesday, June 17, 2015
At the end, the crowd had it correct.
Hail Ridgefield! Hail Ridgefield! Hail Ridgefield!
And with good reason as the No. 1 Ridgefield High School boys volleyball team won its second consecutive Class L state championship by defeating Darien, 23-25, 25-22, 25-19, 25-18 at a steamy Shelton High gym Friday night.
"To win a state title and hold this fabulous championship plaque is the greatest feeling in the world," Ridgefield senior co-captain Mark Liguori said. "We came off the court after winning last year and all we wanted to do was win the state title again."
Ridgefield (23-1) got all the incentive it needed to complete this journey when Darien (23-3) beat the Tigers for the FCIAC championship and derailed the Tigers’ bid for an undefeated season.
"When we lost to Darien in the FCIACs and lost our undefeated season, it put a chip on our shoulders," said Ridgefield senior co-captain Karl Liapunov. "That motivated us to play Darien again."
And although Darien won Game 1 Friday night, Ridgefield was not going to be denied.
"We knew we had to be aggressive. We had to keep pushing and pushing and pushing against Darien," Ridgefield coach Lidiana Gonzalez Cibere said. "We were going out swinging tonight."
Ridgefield sophomore setter Henrik Liapunov collected 47 assists, but the key was Ridgefield came at Darien from all directions.
Karl Liapunov, named the tourney final MVP, had 21 kills. Tall lefty sophomore Nicholas Laudati had 13 kills while Liguori added 12 kills.
"We adjusted our lineup a little bit," Liguori said. "But our focus was to contain Herget and Preston. Once we did that, everything else fell into place."
Ridgefield’s roster was a bit deeper and boasts more seniors than Darien.
"We’re disappointed. But in life sports isn’t everything," Darien senior Todd Herget said. "Ridgefield wanted this state title so badly. And they worked and worked and worked tonight to get it. It’s hard to beat a really good team twice in a season. Most of my Darien teammates will be back next year with another chance. I will miss them so much. It’s been a special season and a special career for me."
In Game 1, Darien jumped out to a 5-0 edge. Ridgefield, however, forged ties at 10-10, 12-12 and 15-15. The score seesawed but Darien never trailed thereafter, winning 25-23.
In Game 2, Ridgefield responded leading 9-5, 12-7, 14-9 and 17-13.
Darien got as close as 19-18 but Ridgefield emerged victorious at 25-22 to even the match.
In Game 3, Ridgefield spurted to grab leads of 11-7 and 17-10, forcing Darien to call its two timeouts for the game.
Darien clawed back to 21-18.
But Ridgefield regrouped after a timeout to post a 25-19 win and grab a 2-1 edge in the match.
In Game 4, Ridgefield continued the momentum as the Tigers took a 6-2 lead, forcing a Darien timeout.
The Tigers spurted to a 13-5 edge and the inevitable was coming. Darien got as close as 20-14 but Ridgefield pounded away to a 25-18 finish and another Class L crown.