DARIEN -- It took until the Class L quarterfinals for Darien to face something it hadn't all year -- adversity.

In the second set against Ridgefield on Saturday the Blue Wave found themselves down 7-0 with their backs against the wall. Darien was able to rally, but ultimately dropped the set 25-20, their first of the season.

"We were talking after the second set and we said we have to communicate more," captain Isabelle Taylor (22 kills) said. "When we do, we have fun and when we do that we're at our best so we really had to stay together."

If Darien hoped to advance, it needed to regroup and refocus and do it quickly.

Much to the Tigers dismay, the Blue Wave did just that. Darien bounced back and took the next two sets, beating Ridgefield 3-1 (25-13, 20-25, 25-16, 25-19).

The advances Darien (23-2) to Thursday's 6 p.m. semifinals at Shelton against Ludlowe in a rematch of the FCIAC championship won by the Blue Wave.

The game was played in front of a packed house at the Darien gym with both fan bases creating a frenetic atmosphere.

"It's the best part of the game," Taylor said of the crowd. "It's great we have such a good fan base and to come out here and do it for our fans and our coach is a great feeling."

Ridgefield wasn't a one-set wonder as it was able to stay competitive throughout the contest and give Darien a challenge it hadn't faced all tournament.

"These guys just didn't want the season to end, they've been playing so well," Ridgefield coach Lidania Gonzalez Cibere said. "They're a great team we were just playing for each other, we didn't want the season to end without a fight so I'm proud of the way they came out tonight."

Gonzalez Cibere also spoke of the Tigers' youth and how a tough match with a powerhouse like Darien prepares them for the future.

"Most of the team you saw is all coming back next year," Gonzalez Cibere said. "This is a very young group without much varsity experience so for them to come out and do what they did this year is a great accomplishment."

Despite the adversity, the Blue Wave maintained their untarnished in-state record, and it started with adjusting to a taller Ridgefield team that initially gave Darien plenty of trouble.

"They were a very strong team," Taylor said of the Tigers. "We had to work on covering, we're not used to that, there's usually not that big players and 23 (Kathryn Jordan) is a great player so we had to really cover for that."

Being able to adjust on the fly and compete with a team constantly firing back only helps the Blue Wave.

"The most important part is that we realize what we have to work on," Taylor said. "We have four days to work on it in practice and figure out where we need to get better."


Darien 3, Ridgefield 1

RIDGEFIELD 13 25 16 19--1

DARIEN 25 20 25 25--3

Records: R:15-6; D: 20-0.

Highlights: Isabelle Taylor had 22 kills and Clair Naughton had 13 kills and 3 blocks.