GREENWICH — As its performance against rival Darien illustrated Thursday, Greenwich had plenty of time to prepare for its second round match of the Class LL volleyball tournament.
Playing their first match since Nov. 5, the Cardinals resembled a team that’s on a mission, after being eliminated in the FCIAC Tournament quarterfinals.
Displaying strong serving and standout serve receive, top-seeded Greenwich swept No. 16 Darien, 3-0, to earn a spot in the Class LL quarterfinals.
Greenwich (19-2) hosts eighth-seeded Trumbull in Saturday’s 6 p.m. quarterfinal round. The Cardinals received a first-round bye in the tournament, before facing familiar regular and postseason foe Darien on Thursday.
“We had a super consistent match,” Cardinals junior co-captain Lilly Saleeby said. “Darien’s serving was incredible, but we did a good job of keep them out of system and our blocking was really good. I feel like our overall energy was amazing.”
The Cardinals, who won the Class LL title in 2017, won the match by game scores of 25-16, 25-19, 25-13.
“I was a little nervous about how they were going to come out after a long break,” GHS coach Steve Lapham said. “When you beat a great program like Darien in three games that’s a good sign.”
Saleeby recorded 10 kills, sophomore Adele Sotgiu had six kills and junior Cornelia Roach posted eight kills to pace the Cardinals’ offensive attack.
“We came out and executed and didn’t let the fact that we hadn’t played in more than a week effect us at all,” Roach said. “This will help us carry on the momentum throughout the rest of states.”
Senior Elaina Cummiskey and sophomore Aerin Bowman each totaled eight kills, while junior Rachel Herget had 16 assists for Darien, which was defeated by Greenwich, 3-2, during the regular season.
The match was the final one for Blue Wave tri-captains Cummisky, Lindsey Fay and Sophia Talwalkar.
“Captainship is something I’ve looked forward to since freshman year, the first time I stepped into the gym,” Cummiskey said. “I learned what it’s like to be a leader. Our team is great, I enjoyed leading every person on the team.”
In the first set, Greenwich jumped out to a 10-5 lead on a kill by senior Ciara Munnelly. Later in the set, the Cardinals increased their advantage to 15-8 on Saleeby’s kill.
The Blue Wave (13-7) closed to within 17-15 son a kill from senior Coco Jepsen, but Greenwich finished the game strong, winning eight of the next nine points. Roach’s kill closed out the opening set.
“I’m ecstatic, states is off to a great start and I’m excited to see this team show everyone in Connecticut what we’ve got,” Roach said.
Darien cut Greenwich’s lead to 12-11 in the second game on a Cummiskey kill, but strong serving from junior Addie Leder, strong play at the net from Roach and solid hitting from Saleeby and sophomore Adele Sotgiu helped the Cardinals pull away.
“Communication was key for us,” Leder said. “Our passing was there, our serving was good and we all had a good connection.”
Cummiskey had six digs, Talwalkar added 10 digs and Bowman tallied four digs for the Blue Wave.
“Overall, as a team, we came out and prepared to play some defense,” Talwalkar said. “We just tried to keep pushing and pushing.”
Greenwich led throughout the final game, opening leads of 14-4 and 17-7. An ace from Thalia Doundoulakis made it 24-13.
“Once the playoffs started for us we knew we had a fresh start and were ready to go right into states,” Saleeby said.
— Greenwich Time Spts (@GreenwichSports) November 15, 2019
PLAYERS OF THE MATCH
Saleeby and Roach helped set the tone with their hitting.
“This season, we learned that the little things count,” Fay said. “When we put in the work and worked hard, not as individuals, we did our best and we played well today.”
Said Leder: “Darien has been our No. 1 rival in states and FCIACs for a long while, so we really wanted it. We’re excited to keep it going.”