FAIRFIELD — There are nights when your best efforts aren’t enough for victory.
The Westhill High School girls volleyball team played well Wednesday night. However, Amity High School was superb. And superb is what works in the Class LL state semifinals.
No. 10 seed Amity posted a 3-0 (26-24, 25-23, 25-20) triumph over No. 3 seed Westhill Wednesday night at the Fairfield Warde High School gym.
The victory means Amity (19-6 overall) will return to the Class LL volleyball final for the second straight year. The Spartans will faceNo. 12 seed Darien in Saturday’s 10 a.m. final at East Haven High School.
“We lost to Greenwich in the 2017 final. So to get back to the title game is an important accomplishment for us,” Amity coach Seth Davis said. “The girls knew they wanted to get back here. And they had the drive to complete the journey.”
It has been a marvelous run back to the LL final for the Spartans. For the first time in four meetings this season, Amity vanquished rival Cheshire High, 3-2 in the LL quarterfinals.
“Beating Cheshire was the best feeling in the world. It took pressure off our backs,” Amity sophomore setter Zoe DiZenzo said. “Beating Cheshire was on our bucket list.”
“The win over Cheshire was icing on the cake. It was empowering to beat them when it counted,” Amity senior captain Abigail Harbinson said. “The extra fire it took to down Cheshire, we brought that drive with us tonight.”
In Game 1, Amity grabbed a 21-17 edge and 23-20 lead. But Westhill forged ties at 23-23 and 24-24. But Amity responded to win 26-24.
In Game 2, Westhill led 5-2, 14-4, 17-9 and 21-18. But Amity fashioned a 7-2 surge for a 25-23 win and a 2-0 lead.
“Westhill fought so hard. They never gave up,” Amity’s Harbinson said. “But we were relentless. Westhill pushed us to perform at our best.”
Amity held a height advantage across the frontline. And the Spartans’ blocking and power kills wore Westhill down.
“We played hard, stayed focused and put the ball away,” Amity coach Davis said. “We played very well out of system. And our big blockers controlled the net.”
Game 3 had an air of inevitability. From 6-6, Amity moved to leads of 18-9 and 24-16.
Match point was elusive until Harbinson had her final power kill for 25-20 and a retutn to the LL final.
Finishing a season at 22-4 overall and reaching the FCIAC Tourney final and the LL semifinals was an accomplishment for Westhill, which graduates just three seniors (Nikki Newcomer, Nina Bakuradze and Elsa Amiti).
“I told them to be proud of all they accomplished this season,” Westhill coach Marianna Linnehan said. “Our defense tonight was amazing. We didn’t stay aggressive and didn’t find a way with our offense. Amity’s blocking and outside hitting was great.”
“I couldn’t ask for a better group of girls to play with my senior year,” Westhill’s Newcomer said. “They mean the world to me. The returning girls will be back and succeed. Amity was tall. But our offense was off. We lost due to ourselves.”
AMITY 3, WESTHILL 0
AMITY 26 25 25—3
WESTHILL 24 23 20—0
Records: Amity 19-6 overall, Westhill 22-4 overall.
Highlights: A—Abigail Harbinson 13 kills, 3 blocks. Zoe DiZenzo 26 assists. Caroline Fertman 4 blocks. W—Nikki Newcomer 17 digs, 7 kills. Nina Bakuradze 16 digs. Sophia Thagouras 12 assists, 4 digs, 5 kills, 7 service points. Betsy Sachs 7 kills. Vana Servios 14 assists, 5 digs, 6 service points.