STAMFORD — The Ridgefield High School girls volleyball team has 10 returnees from its 2016 squad.
That’s 10 players who suffered through the agony of a 3-1 loss to Stamford High School in the Class LL state championship.
Well, revenge was sweet for those 10 Tigers Monday as Ridgefield swept Stamford 25-19, 26-24, 25-16 on the road at Paul Kuczo Gym.
“Yes, we were thinking about last year’s state tournament final loss,” Ridgefield’s Caroline Curnal said. “We wanted big things from the match today. We’re happy with the victory. And it will help us going forward.”
This season has been full speed for Ridgefield, which improved to 3-0 overall and 2-0 in the FCIAC.
Stamford coach Mike Smeriglio wasn’t surprised by the Tigers’ performance.
“For this time of the year (second week of regular season), Ridgefield could be the best team in the state,” Smeriglio said. “They did whatever they wanted today. I voted them No. 1 in the state (volleyball) poll.”
With Game 1 tied at 11-11, Ridgefield fashioned a 6-0 run and went on to a 25-19 win.
In Game 2, Ridgefield rallied from a 12-5 deficit for a 26-24 triumph. In Game 3, the Tigers jumped out 14-5 and closed it out at 25-16.
RIDGEFIELD HAS MANY WAYS TO BEAT YOU
The Tigers graduated five seniors including star hitter Elizabeth Middlebrook.
However, of their 10 returnees, nine are seniors.
“We’re happy with our record (3-0 overall, 2-0 FCIAC). We’ve put in a lot of hard work and the group has a ‘Go Get It!’ attitude,” Curnal said. “With so many seniors, we’re thinking about our legacy this season.”
Ridgefield coach Lidania Cibere attacked this season in a thoughful manner.
Besides preseason practice, the Tigers played three scrimmages and participated in the Val Dickinson Tournament. They didn’t have their season opener until Sept. 15 and have posted three victories in the last four days.
“We treat this as one big program. That’s how everybody learns,” Cibere said. “People waited for their turn. And now it’s their time. We’re fortunate that we have depth and we have options in all facets of the game. Our versatility is a key to our success.”
LIFE WITH THE BULL’S EYE
Last season was a dream for Stamford, filled with an FCIAC title, a Class LL championship, banners, jackets, rings and fatheads to commemorate the Black Knights’ success.
However, six seniors graduated. And three returnees out of the Black Knights’ top nine are left to deal with the target on their collective back.
Senior hitter and co-captain Andrea O’Connor (18 kills, 3 blocks) should go on to a great college volleyball career.
However, this year’s Stamford High squad lacks height, experience, depth and needs to raise its serving consistency.
The effort is there, but the Black Knights are a different squad when O’Connor rotates to the back row.
A number of Ridgefield runs Monday began under that circumstance.
“We made too many errors. But Ridgefield forced us into it,” Stamford coach Smeriglio said. “Ridgefield is in mid-season form. We have things to work on. We have new faces and players in new positions. We have some people new to the sport. We’re all getting used to what it takes.”
RIDGEFIELD 3, STAMFORD 0
RIDGEFIELD 25 26 25—3
STAMFORD 19 24 16—0
Records: Ridgefield 3-0, 2-0 FCIAC; Stamford 2-2, 1-1 FCIAC. Highlights: R—Caroline Curnal 16 kills, 7 digs. Mackenzie Wanicka 10 kills, 6 service points, 2 aces. Lauren Thrasher 32 assists, 5 service points, 3 aces. S—Andrea O’Connor 18 kills, 3 blocks. Elodhie Joassin 5 kills.