BROOKFIELD — No longer concerned with just reaching the FCIAC tournament, the Danbury volleyball team wants to make noise when it gets there.
The Hatters took a break from that quest Monday as they downed non-conference foe Brookfield 3-0 (25-19, 25-23, 25-22) in a border clash. Danbury is now 10-2, a massive step forward for the program led by six seniors.
“I had no idea that would happen,” said Hatters senior Catrina Sullivan of her team’s start. “It was honestly so shocking; we won one game and we thought we could play with this team. Then we won the next one, and the next one; it’s just such a great feeling knowing all our hard work from weeks before the season started is actually playing off.”
The win was anything but swift as the Bobcats had many bright moments and nearly earned multiple games. The crucial second set included several outstanding rallies down the stretch that went the Hatters’ way. One of the reasons for that was senior hitter Sullivan, who had 18 kills in the match.
“(Brookfield) played well and served well, I wasn’t happy they outworked us,” Danbury coach John MacMillan said. “I think that we were able to vary our attack a little bit where we came up with some good swings and blocks at the end. It was close, though, it could have gone either way.”
Danbury had the easiest time in the first set, but even trailed early there. The margin was closest at 23-19, consecutive mistakes by the Bobcats closed it out.
Brookfield regrouped in the second set, going toe-to-toe with the Hatters the entire way. A back-and-forth frame was knotted at 22-22 before a frenetic rally ended in a hitting error by the Bobcats. Sullivan came up with a kill to make it 24-22, and, after Brookfield got a block at the net to pull to within 24-23, another kill ended the set.
“We’re a team that likes to start down, so we have a big comeback,” Sullivan said. “I don’t know if we realize we do it, but it’s always something that happens. We like the intensity of those close games.”
The Hatters used that momentum to jump out to a 12-6 advantage in the final set. When it appeared Danbury would roll to the win, the Bobcats fought back to tie the set at 16-16. Danbury led just 22-21 when a crucial miscommunication in the Brookfield defense led the ball to drop to the floor. A miss-hit made it 24-21 and Danbury closed out the match.
“I was happy with the effort that the team showed,” Brookfield coach Daylon Wiklins said. “Danbury was just more consistent than us; we’d miss a serve and they’d get two or three in a row. In a tight game like this, you can’t have those.”
Bobcats sophomore Emma Mangold was once again stellar on defense, coming up with 16 digs to keep the Bobcats in the game. Hatters setter Megan Mercer had 20 assists.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Catrina Sullivan, Danbury: Whenever it appeared Brookfield would take control of the match, Sullivan — who was second team All-FCIAC last year and may end up on the first team this fall — delivered a kill or service point to get Danbury back on track.
“I’m more happy than anything else,” Wiklins said. “We could have won some games; there are things we can improve on. We just have to be more consistent; it’s a big confidence booster knowing we can play with a team like (Danbury).”
The Hatters get no rest as defending FCIAC champion Stamford comes to Danbury Wednesday. Brookfield gets a similarly tough test Wednesday at Bunnell.
DANBURY 3, BROOKFIELD 0
DANBURY25 25 25 —3
BROOKFIELD19 23 22 — 0
Records: Danbury 10-2, Brookfield 7-7. Highlights: D—Catrina Sullivan 14 kills, 5 aces, 3 digs; Shea McNamara 12 digs, 5 service points; Megan Mercer 20 assists, 5 digs, 2 kills. B—Josie Luizzi 7 kills, 8 digs, 2 aces; Macie Carroll 8 kills, 2 blocks, 12 points; Emma Mangold 16 digs, 10 service points.