GREENWICH — Entering Thursday’s state tournament game against visiting Newington, the Greenwich High School girls volleyball team hadn’t lost a match since Sept. 27.
It didn’t take too long to notice the Cardinals were going to continue their winning ways on Thursday.
Efficiently running its offense, while keeping 11th-seeded Newington out of system, sixth-seeded Greenwich registered a decisive 3-0 win in the second round of the CIAC Class LL Tournament.
Winners of 17 consecutive matches, the Cardinals (21-4) travel to Ridgefield for Saturday’s 5 p.m. Class LL quarterfinals. Greenwich is 2-0 against rival Ridgefield so far this season, having recently defeated the Tigers in the semifinal-round of the FCIAC Tournament.
Senior Tara Ford was a force throughout at the net for the Cardinals, recording a team-high 10 kills.
“Today, we focused on spots and hitting where they weren’t,” said Ford, a tri-captain. “We noticed their libero had a high skill level, so we had to pick and choose where we wanted to hit it.”
Senior tri-captain/setter Nicole Wood registered 29 assists and five aces, while senior tri-captain Maggy Egan notched eight kills and six digs for defending FCIAC champion GHS.
“We were playing smart,” Wood said. “Tara and I were connecting really well. Newington put up a really good fight and they went for everything. It was fun to play them.”
Senior libero Adnerys De Jesus had 17 digs, while junior Amelia Bartlett tallied six kills for Greenwich, which won the match by set scores of 25-18, 25-16, 25-15.
“Tara was bombing balls and Nicole was spot on with her setting,” Cardinals coach Steve Lapham said. “Nicole does a good job of mixing it up — outside, middle, back. Everyone is frozen as to where we are going to attack from.”
Senior Blayne Wanner-Hyde posted 13 digs, senior Yasmin Rincon had seven digs and six assists and senior Meghan Roberts added six kills and four aces for the Indians (15-7).
“We had some players step up really well and a couple that just did not play their best,” Newington coach Christine Wanner said. “At this point of the season, everyone needs to be at their pinnacle. It just didn’t happen like it did in our first-round game.”
The opening set was tied at 15-15, but Greenwich won seven of the next 10 points to take a 1-0 lead. In the second set, kills by Wood and Ford gave the Cards a 21-12 advantage.
An ace by Wood made it 24-13 and after the Indians took the next two points, Ford closed it out with a kill.
Egan served an ace to give GHS a 20-11 cushion in the third game and fittingly, Ford sealed the win with a perfectly placed kill.
“Today was all about serving,” said Egan, a tri-captain. “Coach Lapham tells us to make our serves and if we do make our serves we can beat anyone.”
Said Bartlett: “We communicated really well as a team and Nicole was giving us great spots to hit to, so we were not playing blindly.”
Defensively, the Cards were sound throughout.
“Overall, I think we’re one of the best defensive teams in the FCIAC and states,” De Jesus said. “In the next round, we need to have positive energy out there and get pumped up and not let the ball drop in front of us.”
So Greenwich will face Ridgefield for the third time this season. The Tigers eliminated the Cardinals from the Class LL tourney a year ago with a 3-2 semifinal-round win.
“We are excited to take them on again for the third time,” Wood said. “We really want to keep the pressure on them.”
Said Ford: “Winning the FCIAC Tournament shows what we are capable of. Now we want to win another title.”
GREENWICH 3, NEWINGTON 0
NEWINGTON 18 16 15
GREENWICH 25 25 25