Darien sweeps Cheshire for Class LL crown
Published 9:28 pm, Saturday, November 15, 2014
GLASTONBURY -- Darien girls volleyball has long been mentioned among the state's powerhouse programs, regardless of sport. The Blue Wave has been remarkably consistent, with 12 appearances in the state finals in the last 14 seasons.
Now it can add another championship to its glossy resume.
Darien got the better in a matchup of Class LL juggernauts on Saturday, edging top-ranked and previously unbeaten Cheshire 3-0 at Glastonbury High to win its 17th state championship. The second-ranked Blue Wave won by scores of 25-22, 25-17 and 25-21.
"The girls worked hard for this all season. This is our goal from day one, is to make the state finals," Darien assistant Burt Takesue said. "They made it, and I'm very glad they kept their eyes on the prize the whole time.
"During all the practices and all the times they wanted to quit, they didn't. They just stuck with it."
Cheshire (24-1), the defending LL champion, suffered its first loss since the 2012 final against Darien -- a span of 51 matches.
Like that 2012 final, Darien quickly jumped out to a 2-0 lead. That put all the pressure on Cheshire, which won most of its matches handily during the streak. In fact, the Rams hadn't played a five-set match this year prior to their LL semifinal win over No. 4 Amity on Thursday.
"I'm disappointed in our passing, I'm disappointed that we really didn't take that first game," Rams coach Sue Bavone said. "We gave away some opportunities."
Tied at 14 in the third game, Darien (25-0 in state with two losses to out-of-state teams) reeled off six unanswered points to take control. Cheshire got as close as two points on multiple occasions, but the Blue Wave squashed any hopes of a rally.
"It's indescribable," said Darien junior Isabelle Taylor, who was named the Most Outstanding Player after recording 22 kills and seven service points. "Last year we came up short, and I don't think that's what we had in the back of our minds."
The Blue Wave trailed only once in the second game -- 7-6 -- before taking control thanks to aggressive play at the net. With help from Taylor, the Blue Wave countered with a commanding 9-1 run to build a seven-point lead.
"I give so much credit to my setter, Celia," Taylor said. "She played an awesome game tonight. She was putting the ball right where I needed it. I mean, what else could I ask for?"
Cheshire jumped out to an 11-3 lead in the first game -- prompting a Darien timeout along the way -- but the Blue Wave responded. It pulled even twice before jumping ahead for the first time, 23-22. The Blue Wave, which dropped only two sets all year to in-state opponents, closed out the set on a 5-1 run.
Senior Sarah Rodgers finished with 17 assists to lead Cheshire. Jillian Haberli contributed 12 digs and eight kills.
darien 3, cheshire 0
DARIEN 25 25 25 -- 3
CHESHIRE 22 17 21 -- 0
Records: Darien 25-0 ; Cheshire 24-1.