EAST HAVEN >> Stamford captured the school’s first girls volleyball title with a 22-25, 25-20, 25-13, and 25-22 win over Ridgefield in the Class LL championship game Saturday at East Haven High School.
Junior Andrea O’Connor powered the Black Knights with 23 kills and four blocks and was named the tournament’s most outstanding player.
“Geno Auriemma when he had Diana Taurasi said we have Diana and you don’t. We have Andrea and you don’t,” Stamford coach Mike Smeriglio said.
Ridgefield, which was making its first appearance in the state finals, defeated FCIAC foes McMahon and Greenwich in five set matches to reach Saturday’s championship.
“Stamford’s a great team,” Ridgefield coach Lidania Cibere said. “It’s tough but I was happy two FCIAC teams were here. It’s a strong conference and it was a great victory for the FCIAC.”
No. 3 Stamford (24-2) finished the season with a 19-game winning streak. The Black Knights only two losses were against Ridgefield and Brien McMahon in the regular season. Stamford then turned the tables in the FCIAC tournament, defeating Ridgefield in the semifinals and McMahon in the finals to capture their program’s first FCIAC title.
“I don’t think they know how to lose,” Smeriglio said. “I was worried in game one because we haven’t lost a game one one in a long time. In fact, I don’t remember losing a game one.”
Ridgefield jumped out to a 19-6 lead in the first set before the Black Knights staged a furious rally. Stamford eventually fell 25-22 but the game’s momentum had changed.
“It’s all about momentum,” O’Connor said. “Everybody stepped up tonight. It’s so much fun to be with these girls. We can do anything together as a team. We just need to work hard and keep our energy up. It’s so amazing.”
Also for Stamford, senior Jayla Wilson had 37 assists and 15 service points, senior Sara Staley had nine kills, senior Liisa Balazs had seven kills and junior Gloria Mattioli added seven digs and two kills.
No. 4 Ridgefield (21-4) was led by junior Caroline Curnal (16 kills and 20 digs), senior Liz Middlebrook (22 kills and 14 digs), and senior Kate Linekin (32 assists).
“We had a great season,” Cibere said. “We had some opportunities early tonight and we just couldn’t capitalize. Stamford started playing better at the end of the first set and they carried that momentum right into the second set.”