FAIRFIELD >> Once again, the FCIAC title is back in the hands of the Darien girls’ volleyball team.
Saturday afternoon at Fairfield Ludlowe, the Blue Wave reclaimed the crown after seeing its 11 year streak snapped last season. Darien defeated Ludlowe in three straight sets (25-22, 23-23, 25-20) in a hard-fought and well-played match of volleyball.
“I would say it’s probably the best feeling ever,” said Darien’s Isabelle Taylor, who was named the MVP of the tournament. “It’s kind of surreal right now, but it was a really good game, we had to fight for it.”
Taylor said it best as Ludlowe gave the Blue Wave (21-2, 21-0 league) all it could handle. The Falcons fell behind early in all three sets, but battled back in each game never letting Darien feel comfortable.
The opening set featured seven tie points, including 21-all. But Darien kept its composure and relied upon the arm of Taylor to secure the first win.
In the second set, Ludlowe held its largest lead, 18-14, but could never break away as Darien came roaring back to tie the game at 21 and overtake the lead for good.
The third set was a similar storyline as Ludlowe led late and then Darien fought back. The Blue Wave went on a 5-0 run near the end of game three to secure the victory.
“I think that’s the best part is coming back after a point deficit, because it makes it exciting, it’s not fun to have a boring game,” Taylor said. “And they definitely did not let us have that.”
The Falcons were unfortunately plagued throughout the evening by unforced errors and some ill-timed missed serves.
“It was amazing volleyball on both sides,” Ludlowe head coach Meghan Skelton said. “I’m just so proud of my girls. I feel like we did everything very difficult beautifully and all those little small no-brainers where we were making the mistakes; you can’t have those unforced errors.”
Ludlowe (19-3) pushed Darien to the brink scoring 20 or more points on them in all three sets, something no other FCIAC has accomplished this fall.
The Falcons received strong all-around play, as senior middles April Cooke (11 kills, three blocks, two digs) and Keki Cardenas (10 kills, one block) provided a challenged for the Blue Wave defense at times. Senior setter Andrea Alvarez finished with 31 assists, 15 digs, five service points and two digs in a match that Skelton said was ‘the best she’s ever seen her play.’
“They had really great middle presences, April Cooke and Keki (Cardenas) are both fantastic players and they were super scrappy,” Darien’s Celia Martzolf said. “Everything we hit over they were bringing right back at us. It was really fun to have that challenge.”
The two teams will now gear up for the Class LL State Tournament. Both squads have first round byes and could potentially meet in the semifinals.