Ridgefield sweeps Darien to win FCIAC volleyball crown
Updated 2:42 pm, Thursday, May 31, 2012
FAIRFIELD -- One of the greatest feelings in the world is being called champions.
The Ridgefield High School boys volleyball team is the latest team to savor the joy, ecstasy and satisfaction of being No. 1 Friday night, sweeping past Darien, 26-24, 25-22, 25-15 to capture the FCIAC Championship at the Fairfield Ludlowe gym.
"It's unbelievable. The experience is unreal," said Ridgefield senior Will Gold. "It took this great group of guys four years of hard work to get here. We have so much respect for and it's so special to beat Darien for the title."
The Tigers were certainly focused on earning the first FCIAC boys volleyball crown in school history.
In all three games, Darien led only for seconds at a time. Ridgefield, which had downed Darien in five tough games in the regular season, had no interest in reliving the drama Friday night.
"Tonight was about every single point. We wanted to win every single point," said Ridgefield senior and FCIAC Final MVP Ian Word.
In Game 1, it was tied 16-16 when Ridgefield took control. Even when Darien forged a 24-24 when the officials reverse a call, Ridgefield calmly won the next two points for a 26-24 victory.
It was clear that Darien -- which spent so much emotion in upsetting No. 1 seed Staples in five games in the semifinals -- had no real answer for Ridgefield.
"There's no denying that Ridgefield played well. They never let us get into our rhythm on offense," said Darien senior setter Matt Lee. "We were excited to beat Staples. We wanted to take the final step tonight. But maybe there was some exhaustion in our play. But Ridgefield was great. They deserved the FCIAC title."
It was the sheer power of Ridgefield the shorter Darien squad couldn't overcome.
Ridgefield is a team with not just one great hitter but a slew of hitters and even more coming in fresh off the bench as needed.
"It's just a great offense. Too many hitters for the defense to deal with," said Ridgefield head coach Lidania Cibere. "Chris Bruno was a phenomenal setter tonight. He gave everybody exactly what they wanted."
"The ball goes everywhere," said Word. "And everywhere a great hitter is there."
In Game 2, Darien never led. At 21-21, Ridgefield's power asserted itself for a 25-22 triumph.
It was obvious Darien had too huge a mountain to climb.
In Game 3, Darien led 4-2 only to see Ridgefield answer with a 10-2 surge for a 12-6 edge.
From there, each Ridgefield spike was a nail in Darien's coffin to the 25-15 final.
"Tonight we just went out and grabbed the title and kept it," said Gold as the Tigers celebrated with both the FCIAC title plaque. "Everything worked tonight."
This was an FCIAC title whose dream began for many of the Tigers as sophomores. The seriousness of the task began when most of the Tigers formed a club team this winter to make the off-season count.
And Friday night, the payoff came.
"This is just the start of a beautiful story," Gold said. "We're not done yet. This was a great event. But a state championship plaque to go with this is our mission as well."
Darien is now competing in the Class M state tournament. The No. 5-seeded Blue Wave picked up a 3-0 win over No. 12 Lewis Mills on Tuesday in the first round.
As a result of that win, Darien travels to take on No. 4 Farmington in the tournament's quarterfinals tonight at 5:30 p.m.
Ridgefield 3, Darien 0
DARIEN 24 22 15--0
RIDGEFIELD 26 25 25--3
Highlight: R -- First FCIAC title in Ridgefield boys volleyball history.