GLASTONBURY >> As much as thing changed over the past three years, they remained the same in the Cheshire/Darien rivalry. The last team to beat Cheshire before its 51-match winning streak started took them down again in Class LL final 3-0 (22-25, 17-25, 21-25) at Glastonbury High on Saturday.
The Rams lost to Darien in 2012 final 3-0, both teams have graduated senior classes since then. Coach Sue Bavone said she is proud of her senior class.
“This is the winningest group we’ve ever had at Cheshire High School bar none,” she said. “Honestly they’re going to go down in the record books for us.”
This is Darien’s 17th state title in school history. The Blue Wave have only lost in the state final once in 2010. Darien’s coach would not comment.
Meanwhile for Cheshire, the seniors see their careers end in heartbreaking fashion. Senior Maria Buzzelli said the Rams did all they could and she is proud of what her team did during the streak.
“We had a lot of highlights on our streak and we had some down points,” she said. “But I don’t think this loss defines us.”
The Rams streak ends at 51 matches. During their run of consecutive match triumphs that spanned two years, Cheshire won back-to-back Southern Connecticut Conference titles, a state title last year and only saw one match go five games.
“Any time you can go that long without losing it’s a great accomplishment,” Bavone said. “We never really focused on that streak as much as we did getting back to this game and winning it.”
Seniors Sarah Rodgers had 17 assists, Jillian Haberli had 12 digs and eight kills and Buzzelli had eight digs and an assist.
The Rams looked great to start Game 1, taking a 17-10 lead. However, Darien came back and tied the game at 21 before winning it.
“I’m really not sure what changed,” Haberli said. “I think our emotion kind of dropped. Once we knew we were so far ahead and then they came back on us, we were just deflated.”
In Game 2, Darien started hot and opened up a 15-8 lead. The Blue Wave pushed the lead to 20-14 before closing out the second game for a commanding 2-0 lead.
“Once our passing broke down we were in trouble,” Bavone said. “This was the lowest amount of assists Sarah Rodgers has had in her career, same with Jillian (Haberli). They just put a lot of pressure on us. They put a lot of pressure on us all night and we didn’t respond.”
In Game 3 the Rams led early, but saw the Blue Wave take a 6-5 lead and stretch it to 10-5. Cheshire came back and cut it to two at 21-19, but Darien forged ahead and won the final game the Cheshire seniors will play for the Rams, ending the streak.
“(We) had a great season,” Bavone said. “(The senior class) is definitely going to be the standard for us.”