Darien survives close 1st game, sweeps Wreckers
WESTPORT -- All roads to FCIAC and state supremacy in girls volleyball go through the Darien. The Blue Wave raised its record to 7-0 with a 3-0 (32-30, 25-15, 25-15) victory at Staples (5-1) on Wednesday. Still, the Wreckers showed they are a strong team by pushing the Blue Wave to the limit in the first game, which they were serving on game point three times.
"In the first game, we played with them and in the second and third games, we played our game," Darien senior captain Mackenzie Begley said. "We were aggressive and knew if we went down, we were going down fighting."
There were 18 ties and seven lead changes in the first game with neither team building a lead greater than three points. Wreckers senior co-captain Alex Masiello (11 kills, one block, 11 service points, three aces, 12 digs) served three straight points, the last two aces, to give her team an 8-5 lead.
Having two juniors who are 6 feet tall, Joosje Grevers and Augie Gradoux-Matt, helped Staples in the front row. Grevers (six kills, 11 blocks) came up with some big blocks and pounded home kills from senior captain Lucy Stanley and junior Anna Link.
Gradoux-Matt (five kills, four blocks one dig) had a kill from Stanley to set the tone.
Despite the Wreckers jumping out to a good start, the Blue Wave didn't get to where they were by accident. Darien eventually tied it at 9 on junior Charlett Stevenson's service ace.
Stevenson (11 kills, 10 digs, seven service points, one ace) then served the next point, which teammate Kelly Stueber (five kills, one block, three service points, two aces, four digs) set it up with a tip.
Senior Emma Getsinger (13 kills, 12 service points, four aces, seven digs, one block) pounded the ball with authority for Darien and her kill gave them a 13-12 lead. Getsinger then added a service ace to extend Darien's lead to three, 16-13.
Teammate Bella Carrara (nine digs) played well on defense as the libero for the Blue Wave and was instrumental in them taking a lead.
"The blocking was great in the front row and the back row was able to build off of it," Carrara said.
However, Staples didn't give up. Grevers had a kill at the net, junior Kenzie Roof (one kill, 11 digs, eight service points) had a dig and forced an error to tie it 17-17 and Link (six service points, two aces, two kills, six blocks, nine digs) set up a Grevers kill to knot it 18-18.
The Wreckers weren't able to take the lead until after they faced game point for the first two times. Masiello tied it both times, the first at 24-24 on a deep kill from Link and the second off a basketball pass kill.
Grevers' block gave Staples a 26-25 lead. The Wreckers had leads of 27-26 and 28-27 off a Grevers kill and Stevenson's service error. However, a net violation on Staples, Link's hit being short and Getsinger's kill kept Darien alive.
"It definitely started with the pass and we played good defense," Getsinger said. "Mackenzie's setting helped get us going and the blocking set us up. We worked on what type of blocking they'd put up and the type of defense they played."
Stueber's service ace and Begley's basketball pass kill put the Blue Wave position to win it, but Getsinger's net violation squashed the first opportunity and Masiello's long kill stymied the second and made it 30-30. In the end, Kosnik leaped for the block and Getsinger closed out the game with a service point.
"That play [Kosnik's] was the same as the others and it kept the energy going on our side," Carrara said.
Begley said, "It (winning the game) definitely gave us momentum."
Darien jumped out to 4-0 leads in the second and third games and built its leads to 19-11 and 20-10, respectively. Masiello kept Staples in both games with a few cross-court kills and a bruising serve.
Darien's defense also prevented Staples from closing the gap.
"Their defense won it for them because they dug out so many balls which should have been kills," Staples coach Jon Shepro said. "These were hustle plays and represented two-point swings."
Stanley (six service points, one ace, eight digs, two blocks), senior co-captain Dana Rappaport (five service points, 13 digs) and teammate Kristen Weiler (nine service points, one ace, 12 digs) also contributed for the Wreckers.
Begley's (30 assists, 16 digs, eight service points, two aces, one kill) setting ignited the Blue Wave as she effectively located her hitters in the right spot.
"It all started with our defense, which set the tone," Begley said.
Sophomore lefty Riley Sousa (five service points, two aces, 12 digs, two kills) helped the Blue Wave in the back row. Her serves kept Staples off-balance and the fact she's a southpaw put a different twist on it and was harder to defend.
Darien was happy to leave Westport with the win.
"They brought a lot of energy here," Carrara said.
Gestinger said, "We were pumped to play them because they are a good team."