GREENWICH — Off to one of its best starts to a season in program history, the Greenwich girls volleyball team hit a slight speed bump in the form of Westhill on Monday, but it got right back on the winning road on Thursday.
The Cardinals, the No. 1 team in the latest state coach’s poll and the top-ranked squad in Class LL, shook off their first loss of the season to Westhill and showed the tenacity and determination of a squad eager to produce a memorable season when Wilton came to town Thursday.
Senior co-captain Lilly Saleeby recorded 13 kills, junior Cornelia Roach had five kills and junior setter Addie Leder posted 21 assists to pace the 13-1 Cardinals to a 3-0 win over Wilton. Greenwich was coming off a 3-0 road loss to FCIAC rival Westhill.
“This win was definitely a confidence-booster,” Saleeby said. “Westhill’s a great team and we knew that going into the match. We took everything we needed to learn from that match and learned from our mistakes. We moved on from that loss.”
Sophomore Adele Sotgiu and junior Alina Fingold tallied four kills apiece, while Roach, sophomore Liana Sarkissian and Leder each had two aces for the victors.
“It was good to get out on the court after our loss and have some fun,” GHS coach Steve Lapham said. “Everyone got in and our starters were really firing on all cylinders early on. Westhill was tough, they deserved to win the other night. We know we have to up our game with Westhill, which is good. You can learn a lot from a loss.”
Wilton (1-12) which is in rebuilding phase, received three kills and five blocks from junior Julia Swierczynska and four service points, one ace and two digs from sophomore Gillian Lipsky.
“We have to polish up some areas,” Warriors coach Steve Brienza said. “Greenwich is No. 1 in the state for good reason. Our serve receive — we had some good moments, we had some bad moments. I like what I saw from our team in game three. It kind of went back and forth, but we have to sharpen up what we’re doing on our side of the court to compete with the likes of Greenwich and as we move into next week with Ludlowe, Ridgefield and Trumbull.”
SETTING THE TONE
The Cards wasted little time imposing their will on the Warriors in the first game. A block from Sarkissian, an ace from junior Thalia Doundalakis (finished with five aces), another block from Sarkissian and a kill from Saleeby gave Greenwich a commanding 10-1 lead in the opening set. An ace from junior Gia Greschner gave the Cardinals a 24-8 lead and she served out the first set.
The home team’s offense was impressive throughout, with setters Heather Zitzmann and Leder consistently getting the ball to the outside and middle hitters.
“Whenever a hitter makes themselves available by calling for balls that makes our offense run more efficiently,” said Zitzmann, a sophomore. “When they call for the ball, we know where they are.”
Added Leder: “It’s really fun and nice to be on a winning team and we are challenging ourselves whenever we can. We are a strong team and only getting stronger.”
SHOWCASING THEIR STRENGTHS
Getting the upperhand on Greenwich has been a difficult task for Greenwich opponents, which has consistently gotten its foes out of system.
“We have a great serving team,” Saleeby said. “Serve and serve receive are the two most important aspects of the game and our team specializes in those aspects.”
The Cardinals jumped out to another sizeable lead in the second set against Wilton and never looked back. Saleeby capped the set with a kill.
Lipsky and Swierczynska paced the Warriors in the third and most competitive, game.
“Overall, we had some good moments against a great team,” Brienza said. “I’m happy with our output and they effort they gave.”
“We’ve really been putting in the work at practice and the past few games we’ve really been pushing ourselves,” said GHS senior co-captain Ciara Munnelly. “A big part of our success is that we cheer for each other and motivate each other, which keeps our spirits high. There are so many girls on this team that are such powerful players and it feels great to be a part of it.”
Greenwich visits Bridgeport Central on Monday, then travels to St. Joseph on Thursday, before hosting Trumbull on Friday.
“We can’t fall asleep at any time, we have got to stay awake the whole process,” Saleeby said. “It’s never over until that last championship match, so we really have to focus on that and play hard every single point.”
GREENWICH 3, WILTON 0
WILTON – 8 7 18
GREENWICH – 25 25 25