DARIEN — One of the good things about girls volleyball in the FCIAC is in the past few seasons, there have been enough available slots in each school’s schedule to play as challenging non-conference slate of games as teams wish.
As a result, Newtown High School and Darien High School have built a girls volleyball relationship that has benefitted both sides.
Darien High School went home slightly happier Monday as the Blue Wave defeated Newtown, 25-19, 15-25, 25-15, 25-19 in their home gym. The triumph gave the teams a split of their 2017 series as the Nighthawks had swept Darien, 3-0, to open the season.
“I enjoy playing against Darien each year,” said Newtown coach Tom Czaplinski. “Darien is a historic girls volleyball program in the state. And Darien coach Laurie LaRusso has been gracious about putting us on their schedule each season.”
Monday’s Columbus Day meeting was a good matchup for both sides. Darien has a shorter roster than normal along with a number of sophomores and juniors getting a taste of varsity action.
Newtown (8-5 overall, still 5-2 in the Southwest Conference (SWC)) also has a younger squad and was missing some height on the front row with senior co-captain Erin Burns out injured.
DARIEN MAKING SOLID PROGRESS
After splitting the opening two games, Darien raised its serving level and was able to play from in front the last two games.
In Game 3, the Blue Wave jumped out to leads of 4-0, 7-1, 12-4 and 18-11 before winning 25-15 for a 2-1 edge.
In Game 4, Darien led 4-0, 12-4 and 19-11. Newtown closed to 20-18 before the Blue Wave secured the victory.
“We were motivated since we had lost to Newtown on opening day,” said Darien senior captain Caroline Martzolf. “We maintained our effort level and strove to be a really good team.”
Martzolf was important down the stretch as she collected a good portion of her 12 kills along with 12 service points and four aces.
Senior Adeline Schoen was solid as setter Monday as she amassed 23 assists.
Darien (6-5, 5-4 FCIAC) has won five of its last seven matches since participating in the John Jay Tournament in late September.
NEWTOWN WILL BE READY FOR STATES
The Nighthawks entered Monday tied for 12th place in the Class LL state rankings. They are 4-3 since participating in the John Jay Tourney.
They should move forward when Burns returns from injury.
Newtown junior setter Kim Buttery (24 assists) directed the offense well, spreading her passes to a number of hitters.
The Nighthawks’ serving ran hot and cold. Tess Mubarek (14 service points) and Rachel O’Grady (12 service points) led the way.
Co-captain Zoe Beals finished with seven kills and eight digs.
“Our inexperience showed at times,” said Newtown coach Czaplinski. “But this is why I try to keep our out-of-conference schedule very strong.”
DARIEN 3, NEWTOWN 1
NEWTOWN 19 25 15 19—1
DARIEN 25 15 25 25—3
Records: Newtown 8-5; Darien 6-5 overall, 5-4 FCIAC.
Highlights: N—Zoe Beals 7 kills, 8 digs. Kim Buttery 24 assists. Tess Mubarek 14 service points, 6 digs. Rachel O’Grady 12 service points. D—Caroline Martzolf 12 kills, 12 service points, 4 aces, 10 digs, 1 block. Lindsay Bennett 6 kills, 6 service points, 13 digs. Adeline Schoen 23 assists.