MIDDLETOWN — Twenty-three games. Twenty-three wins. And a title to boot.
Darien completed an unexpected perfect season Thursday night by knocking off Enfield in four sets (18-25, 25-17, 25-22, 25-16) to win the CIAC Class L boys’ volleyball championship at Xavier High School.
“From day one, no,” Darien coach Laurie LaRusso said about the perfect record. “We were very inexperienced with a lot of kids who never played the game before. It’s a tribute to their hard work and the captains on the floor to get us here.”
It is the fourth state championship for the Blue Wave, who last won the Class L crown in 2017. Their other two titles came in Class M.
Darien (23-0) struggled in the first set, never leading as Enfield took control midway through and took the 25-18 victory. It was just the second game that the Blue Wave dropped in the state tournament.
— Dave Phillips (@davephillips41) June 11, 2021
“We needed to play and stop worrying about things they couldn’t control,” LaRusso said. “Things that went wrong they were carrying into the next point. Enfield is an excellent team and we were just trying to take one point at a time.”
Meanwhile, Enfield coach Judy Joslin said the Eagles were playing well.
“I thought we were playing our game,” Joslin said. “We were mixing up our sets and spread the ball around. We had some unforced errors with serves but we cleaned that up.”
After that, Darien started to take control. The Blue Wave grabbed a 10-7 lead in the second set before Enfield came back to knot things at 11-11. From there, Darien never trailed again in the set and won it when Andre Fritz-Carly’s shot down the right side for Enfield went wide right.
“The problem was our energy,” said Darien sophomore Trevor Herget, who had 28 kills. “We didn’t have enough energy, but we got it back in the second set. I thought it was the big factor.”
Darien controlled the third game from start to finish, only trailing twice in the middle, but a perfectly placed kill by Luke Bradbury (11 kills) down the left side just inside the line gave the Blue Wave a 2-1 edge in sets.
The fourth game was all Darien as the Blue Wave took a 10-6 early lead. Enfield cut it to 13-11, but that was the closest it would get. Bradbury’s kill off two Eagles on the left side of the net fell to the floor to give Darien the title.
“It was a culmination of everything,” Bradbury said. “Our team played great and I got the last point.”
Enfield (19-3) appeared in a state final for the fourth time, but has come up empty each time. The last time the Eagles played for a title was in 2013.
“I think we played hard the whole way through and we went out fighting,” Joslin said. “We weren’t going to give it to them and that’s the thing I’m most proud of.”