Since winning the Class LL tournament in 2015, Fairfield Ludlowe coach Meghan Skelton has had 2018 circled on her calendar.
She knew that this season would be the Falcon’s next chance to make some real postseason noise, and it looks like she may be right.
“We’ve been building for this season,” Skelton said. “We had a very young team last year and we still have a relatively young team this year and we’re really working on being brilliant at the basics. I know this is a team that’s capable of achieving a lot of wins and doing very well in both the FCIAC and the state and that’s our goal.”
Ludlowe currently sits at 13-4 on the season and has had the benefit of playing in a deep, loaded FCIAC all year.
Something that may not have been true in the past.
“It’s exciting times for the FCIAC,” Skelton said. “I started coaching Ludlowe back in 2006 and at the time, up until most recently, there would be a few powerhouse teams at once in the league. Now we’re in times of really strong volleyball IQ, girls are playing more year-round, the coaches are very knowledgeable, so it extremely competitive. There used to be a drop-off in competition, but now I would say it’s really anybody’s game.”
Currently at No. 7 in the state, Bristol Eastern has had a fine season.
Its only two losses have been to Southington and RHAM, ranked No. 2 and 4, respectively, and have done more to help than harm.
“We definitely need those matches to figure out where we stand, what we need to work on, what we’re doing well and kind of evaluate what’s going to be ahead of us,” Lancer coach Stacy Rivoira said. “Because those are the types of teams that were going to be seeing come tournament time at a point where we’re going to be needing to be at our very best.”
Those losses, along with a loaded regular season schedule and key senior leadership has helped forge Bristol Eastern into a CCC and Class L contender.
“We have some experience on our side, having five seniors out on the court at different times, so I do think that helps,” Rivoira said. “We’ve played some pretty intense matches with some high-caliber teams, whether it be divisional or through our different tournaments that we have been in.”
Now, Rivoira will learn on those seniors between points on the court, where it’s most instrumental during the postseason.
“I definitely will rely on them to do that,” Rivoira said. “We talked about the composure piece. We’ve been in this situation before and you need to learn form that situation and now is the time to prove what your experience can do for you. I think that having five seniors, they need to draw from that experience and use that as a strength and if they’re able to do that, I think we can be very successful.”
Just like that, playoffs start for the SCC on Friday.
For now, 10 teams’ anxiously await their pairings.
The action should be thrilling throughout, with each squad in double-digits in the win column.
Cheshire, No. 3 in the state coaches poll, will be the favorite at 17-0 on the season, but right behind it is 15-win Shelton and a duo of 14-game winners in Guilford and North Haven.
Sophia Thagouras, Westhill: Had nine kills and 15 assists in 3-0 win over Darien.
Jo Blanco, Fairfield Ludlowe: Had four aces, 15 kills and 10 digs in 3-1 win over Staples.
Shannon Quinn, Danbury: Had four aces, two digs, seven kills and an assist in 3-0 win over Wilton.
GET OUT AND GO
Trumbull at Danbury, Friday, 5:30 p.m.: Last tune-up for FCIAC No. 1 Trumbull before conference playoffs.
Staples at St. Joseph, Friday, 5:30 p.m.: Possible FCIAC tournament preview between top-ranked St. Joseph and current No. 8 Staples.
Woodstock Academy at RHAM, Friday, 6 p.m.: Marquee late-season matchup between state No. 1 Woodstock and No. 4 RHAM.
East Lyme at Newtown, Friday, 6 p.m.: Sixth-ranked East Lyme travels to Newtown, which boasts a 10-game win streak.