FAIRFIELD >> Heading into Thursday’s Class LL state semifinal match, the Fairfield Ludlowe girls’ volleyball team’s biggest concern isn’t No. 1 Cheshire. Instead, the Falcons’ biggest test when they step foot on the court will be how they handle themselves.
“I’ve done a lot of different coaching tactics, but I really believe my team is capable of beating anyone,” head coach Meghan Skelton said. “It’s just our own mental game, playing against ourselves. We are our own worst enemy.”
It’s a fine line to walk – getting too high or low – for many teams in the sport of volleyball where momentum can swing in matter of seconds. The Falcons have proven numerous times this season they are a tough out when clicking together. They were the only team in Connecticut to defeat Greenwich, 3-2, on Oct. 16.
“When we’re on our ‘A’ game I don’t feel like there’s anyone who can stop us,” Skelton said. “But that’s when we’re on our ‘A’ game. We also quickly dip.”
Coming off a huge five-set victory in the quarterfinals over Darien on Saturday, the first time in program history the fifth-seeded Falcons beat the Blue Wave, should provide reassurance and confidence going up 24-0 Cheshire at 7 p.m. at Trumbull High.
The Rams and Falcons (19-3) are no strangers to one another. Last fall Cheshire knocked out Ludlowe 3-2 in the semifinals. It was another case of Ludlowe leading and then the mental side taking over. Cheshire scored the final five points to win the fifth set and advance to the title game.
Skelton said she’s really tried to limit the conversation of what took place last year. It’s a new season with new players.
“I mean, we try and focus on our side more so than anything else,” senior libero Corrinne Lang said. “So I think personally, it doesn’t matter who is on the other side of the net, but as long as we play our game, we should be happy with that.”
Added senior Casey Boatwright: “Yeah, I remember that match definitely. But what’s going to take for us to win is limiting our errors. Making sure we get all our serves in and control what we can control.”
Ludlowe will go up against a Rams squad known for their flawless defense. In a sweep of Amity in the quarterfinals, the Rams defeated the Spartans 25-9, 25-17 and 25-19. They were paced offensively by Jill Howard Rebecca Ligi, Eva Whelan and Laura Heynen who combined for 35 kills. Setter Sarah Rodgers added 26 assists.
“I’ve studied them for sure and I know they are going to be a great opponent,” Skelton said.
Ludlowe brings in Skelton’s tallest team to date. Junior April Cooke stands at 6-4, Boatwright accompanies Cooke in the middle at 6-2, while senior setter Pauline Blatt is 5-11. Ludlowe also boasts a handful of outside hitters that range from 5-9 to 5-11.
“It’s awesome,” Skelton said of the height. “I often lose sight with how tall they are.”
While Skelton acknowledged the fact there will be nerves Thursday, she feels like all the momentum is in her teams favor, and they are prepared for the challenge.
“I’m just really excited for the match,” Lang said with a smile. “It’s going to be tough to beat us when we play our best. I think we have a lot of talent on this team and no matter who is on the court, we can be successful.”