STAMFORD — The Ridgefield High School and St. Joseph High School girls volleyball teams have secured spots in the FCIAC penthouse at 9-0.
The race for the other six FCIAC playoff berths, however, is intense. There are roughly 10 schools that can be in the hunt for those remaining positions. Which means the margin between these opponents is razor-thin.
On Wednesday, Staples High and Westhill High stated their cases for postseason glory with Staples finally emerging with a hard-earned 25-21, 22-25, 25-11, 10-25, 15-9 road triumph.
“It was great to see. It was nice to pull out a five-set win,” Staples coach Jon Shepro said. “We’ve had a number of tough losses this season. But so many girls stepped up tonight. This is a victory that should help us going forward.”
STAPLES WON DESPITE INJURY
Staples improved to 7-5 overall and 6-4 in the FCIAC West with the triumph.
More importantly, the Wreckers grabbed the win despite being without the services of senior hitter Amanda Troelstra.
“We have an interesting mix in our rotation,” Shepro said. “Three seniors, three sophomores and two juniors. Amanda is a big part of what we do. But so many girls made the most of their chances today.”
Staples received great serving from senior Mackenzie Lesher, sophomore Sofia Alfero and senior libero Vanessa Eng.
Another difference maker for the Wreckers was 6-foot-1 junior hitter Isabella Jagenberg. She amassed 17 kills and four blocks while playing only a front row rotation throughout.
“Everybody did a great job of hustling,” said Staples senior setter Anastasija Perri, who ran the offense in all five sets. “We had great energy and people were super excited. This was a great match to win. It gives us more confidence. This helps us see exactly what we can be this season.”
WESTHILL TAKING STEPS FORWARD
Westhill is a very young squad with only two seniors — captain Gabby Veseli and hitter Samantha Johns-Folkes — playing significant time in the rotation.
The Vikings have three juniors, five sophomores and one freshman who see action. They have two setters in sophomore Sophia Thagouras (arguably their best server) and freshman Vasiliki Servos.
The Vikings have grown from 6-14 overall and 4-12 FCIAC last year to 9-4 and 4-4 in the FCIAC West this season.
“I’m so proud of how far the girls have come so far,” said Westhill coach Marianna Capomolla. “What our young players now have to address is mental toughness. We did a lot of good things tonight. But we have to learn how to finish.”
In Game 3, Westhill trailed 9-3 but fought back to a 9-9 tie. However, Staples then went on an 11-0 surge to ultimately win 25-11.
In Game 5, Westhill led 8-7 only to see Staples fashion an 8-1 run for the 15-9 triumph.
“This is my fourth year with the program so I know,” Westhill’s Gabby Veseli said. “The younger team members need to learn that you can’t ever relax in FCIAC matches.”
THE ROADS AHEAD
Staples will face Stamford, Darien and unbeaten Ridgefield in its next three contests.
Westhill — now 1-2 in five-set matches — will battle Greenwich, Ludlowe, McMahon and Stamford next.
STAPLES 3, WESTHILL 2
STAPLES 25 22 25 10 15—3
WESTHILL 21 25 11 25 9—2
Records: Staples 7-5, 6-4 FCIAC West. Westhill 9-4, 4-4 FCIAC West.
Highlights: S—Isabella Jagenberg 17 kills, 4 blocks. Mackenzie Lesher 11 kills. Bella Siskind 11 kills. W—Gabbie Veseli 17 digs, 7 kills, 7 service points. Nina Bakuradze 23 digs. Sophie Thagouras 5 kills, 17 assists, 18 service points. Vana Servos 13 assists, 17 service points. Betsy Sachs 12 kills, 8 service points.