FAIRFIELD -- Darien made fewer errors and served better than host Ludlowe Wednesday night, winning a showdown of unbeaten teams in FCIAC volleyball. The Blue Wave (7-0 overall) lost the first game 27-25 before winning the last three 25-17, 25-21 and 25-18.
The Blue Wave raised its FCIAC record to 6-0, while the Falcons dropped to 5-1 overall and in the conference. The rivals were conference co-champions in 2012, when Darien won the regular-season match 3-1 as well.
"I'm scared to look," Ludlowe coach Meghan Skelton said of her stat sheet, knowing it would reveal just how many mistakes the Falcons made.
"It's very frustrating to see (the Falcons) self-implode with all those unforced errors and all the missed services at crucial times. They killed any momentum that we had going. We did not play our best. I was not proud of how we played. We have to learn to play as a team."
Most of Ludlowe's problems came in games two and four, though they were not error-free in the first and third games. Darien, if anything, was more consistent.
"This was a good game because we could see where we're at," said Darien junior captain Celia Martzoff. "We're really young, and we have a lot of things to teach each other. A lot of (the young players) have really been pulling through."
Blue Wave senior captain Nicole Schmidt noted the strength of Ludlowe as an opponent, but spoke of her team's resiliency.
"We were really able to lean on each other, even though we made mistakes," Schmidt said.
Ludlowe got off to a 6-1 lead in the opener and regained the upper hand after Darien pulled even at 7-7, 9-9 and 10-10. The Falcons moved to a 17-11 advantage, but were clinging again with a 20-19 lead. The Blue Wave knotted it at 24-24, but the Falcons persevered when Darien failed to dig the ball just before it landed on the game-winning shot by Ludlowe junior Olivia Auray.
Darien held a 9-8 lead in the second game before winning six of the next nine points for a 15-11 lead. Ludlowe cut the deficit to 18-15, then the Blue Wave won five of the next six points for a 23-16 cushion. In game 3, the Falcons opened a 5-2 lead before Darien got on a roll. Ludlowe scrapped back for a 16-16 tie but the Blue Wave maintained a two- and three-point lead the rest of the way for a 2-1 edge in games.
Skelton used her deep but young bench in game four, but that couldn't arrest Darien's momentum. The Blue Wave pulled away to a 25-18 victory as the Falcons' service game betrayed them once more.
"There were definitely nerves out there, and we wanted to win so bad," Skelton said. "We'd have some great plays followed by an unforced error. It's a matter of them getting confident."
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Darien 3, Ludlowe 2
DARIEN 25 25 25 25--3
FAIRFIELD LUDLOWE 27 17 21 18--2
Records: Darien 7-0, 6-0 FCIAC; Fairfield Ludlowe 5-1, 5-1 FCIAC. Highlights: D--Nicole Schmidt had 15 kills and one ace, Isabelle Taylor had five kills and two aces, Claire Naughton had five kills and four aces; FL--Casey Boatwright had 15 kills, nine service points and three blocks, Andrea Alvarez had 24 assists, 10 digs and 17 service points.