— Mary Albl (@MaryAlbl) November 3, 2015
FAIRFIELD >> To say the Fairfield Ludlowe girls’ volleyball team was motivated for Tuesday’s FCIAC quarterfinal match against Warde, might be an understatement.
Two weeks after dropping a five-set thriller to the Mustangs for the first time in program history, the Falcons made sure there wasn’t a repeat.
Led by a strong defensive performance and dominating net play, Ludlowe defeated Warde 12-25, 25-12, 25-21, 25-17 to advance to the FCIAC semifinal on Thursday against Ridgefield at Ludlowe.
“Senior year, Warde, crosstown rival, our own gym, couldn’t be more pumped,” senior libero Alice Nelson said.
Nelson admitted maybe she was personally too pumped up in the first set as Warde took a 1-0 lead, winning 25-12.
“Sometimes you need a reality check,” she said with a smile.
The final three sets Ludlowe focused of generating its offense through the front row, as seniors Isabelle Andrews, Kylie McCaffery and Alex McKinnon presented an imposing attack.
“I think they got smart and went to their middles,” Warde head coach Matt Narwold said. “And we couldn’t react to that the way we planned to react; they run a great offense in the middle.”
Andrews, who had10 kills and six blocks, was a force all evening as the Falcons never trailed in the second set to pull even with the Mustangs.
Ludlowe’s defense also improved in the final three sets as Nelson gave her team every chance possible to get a point. The senior libero was all over the court making incredible diving saves and setting up the offense as she finished the match with three service points and 23 digs.
“Alice Nelson is incredible,” Ludlowe head coach Meghan Skelton said. “She’s one of the best defensive players I’ve ever had. And I think in the state as well. She’s very skilled, she knows where to be, she can see everything.”
Tied at one game apiece, Warde did its best to get something going, but the Falcons put on a double block on Warde’s top hitter, and one of the best middles in the state, Nicole Vacarella. Also, anything Warde did get over, Ludlowe’s defense seemed to have an answer for.
“It’s all about defense, and that’s exactly what we focused on since we played Warde last,” Skelton said.
Ludlowe’s McCaffery added 11 kills, six service points, three blocks and 12 digs.
Warde’s Vacarella finished the night with a match-high 19 kills and 10 blocks.
While Ludlowe advances in the conference tournament, Warde will now gear up for a run in the Class LL State Tournament.
“We’re going to reset and go for another championship,” Narwold said.