GREENWICH — It was three weeks ago when the Fairfield Ludlowe girls’ volleyball team dropped its first match of the season, a 3-1 decision to Darien. It was a loss where head coach Meghan Skelton felt like too many self-made errors and a lack of communication took place. It was a loss she also felt wasn’t indicative of her team’s full potential.
Wednesday evening in a battle against the top-ranked team in the FCIAC, the Falcons displayed growth, maturity and strong and resilient play to defeat Greenwich in five games (26-24, 25-23, 23-25, 23-25, 15-7) and improve to 13-1 on the season.
“Up to date, I can honestly say there hasn’t been a bigger win for us in our program,” Skelton said. “We needed that. They needed that to validate how I see them. I keep telling them what they’re capable of. But they need the evidence, so that was a huge, huge match for us.”
It took five games to collect the final result, but it was a telling sign that the Falcons are ready to contend for a conference and state title.
It was the Cardinals (13-1) first FCIAC loss of the season.
“I’m like so excited right now,” Ludlowe senior captain Casey Boatwright said. “We really showed that we can pull it out. I think our team is finally coming together and showing that we can be the best in the state.”
The Falcons were able to jump out to a dominating start and finish in large part due to strong net play in the middle from Boatwright and junior April Cooke. Boatwright finished the evening with 11 kills, eight blocks, two digs and 11 service points. Cooke accounted for 10 kills and six blocks.
“It’s nice to have the finish strong,” Skelton said. “April, this has been her breakout match.”
Added Boatwright: “At the net, at the last game, I thought April turned into a brick wall.
After Ludlowe took a 2-0 lead, Greenwich battled back to collect game three and four victories, as Mirei Kato registered 16 kills and Heather Desino had 10 kills, 15 digs and three aces.
But it was again, the domineering net presence and flawless execution down the stretch of the Falcons to finish off the Cardinals.
Tied at two games, Ludlowe took a 3-2 lead and added to make it 11-3. Cooke, Boatwright and hitters Olivia Auray, Olivia McLaughlin and Pauline Blatt all had key plays. Libero Corrinne Lang orchestrated the offense as she accounted for 33 digs.
“You got to hand it to their passing, because when they can put the ball right at the net, then you have your middles coming in hard,” Greenwich head coach Steve Lapham said. “We need to make plays down the stretch. They made them early, we came back and made them, and we had a terrible start to that fifth game. They blocked us, roofed us hard a few times.”
Ludlowe has four games left in the regular season, including rival Warde on Friday and then Staples on Wednesday. Boatwright said this win gives the team so much confidence as they head into the final stretch.
“Ater that loss to Darien we knew we could have done better and I think we really showed it here this game,” Boatwright said. “And we’re getting so much confidence for the future, for FCIAC’s and for states. We’re excited.”