FAIRFIELD — It wasn’t business as usual.
However, Darien is exactly where it wants to be.
The Blue Wave advanced to the FCIAC championship game Wednesday by outlasting archrival New Canaan, 25-12, 22-25, 25-20, 25-19 in the semifinals at Ludlowe High gym.
The win means No. 1 seed Darien (20-1 overall) will meet No. 2 seed Staples for the title Friday at 7 p.m. at Ludlowe. Staples topped Danbury in five games in Wednesday’s late semifinal.
Although it was Darien’s 20th consecutive victory, the Blue Wave saw their consecutive set streak end at 58.
New Canaan’s 25-22 triumph in Game 2 was the first set that Darien had lost since a 3-2 season-opening, non-league, road loss to unbeaten Newtown High back on March 30.
For Darien, the most important factor was the chance to play for yet another FCIAC championship.
“New Canaan is a great team,” Darien senior co-captain Tyler Herget said. “We won the first set easy (25-12) playing very well. But we let up and fell apart in Game 2.”
New Canaan, which had lost twice by 3-0 to Darien in the regular season, put their best effort forward in Game 2.
Even after Darien rallied from a 14-9 deficit to forge a 17-17 tie, New Canaan answered with three straight points for 20-17. The Rams kept rolling for the 25-22 triumph to even the match.
The Ram fans on hand were giddy when New Canaan went ahead 12-7 in Game 3.
“During that timeout, the message from (Darien veteran) coach (Laurie) LaRusso was clear,” Herget said. “Don’t think ahead. Just do it a point at a time. Do your best now.”
Darien responded with a 6-1 surge for a 13-13 deadlock.
The match turned inexorably with New Canaan ahead 17-16. Senior co-captain Herget, Piers Roofthooft and junior hitter Jack Roberson brought the hammer down on a 7-1 surge for a 23-18 edge. That became a 25-20 win for Darien and a 2-1 match edge.
“The entire group has worked so hard to reach this point,” Roofthooft said. “We are so determined not to have anyone step up in our path in the postseason. We are playing with great heart.”
It was Darien’s balance that ultimately won the evening.
Herget collected 18 kills, three aces and five digs. Roofthooft had 14 kills. Roberson had 10 kills and four blocks in the middle upfront. Junior setter Jackson Leone handed out 42 assists.
Darien swept Staples, 3-0 at home in midseason. But the Wreckers have been very solid down the stretch of the season and will not go out quietly in Friday’s final.