STAMFORD — One postseason journey ends. And the final quest begins.
The FCIAC runnerup Westhill girls volleyball team put its best foot forward Monday night as the No. 3 seeded Vikings swept intracity rival and No. 30 seed Stamford, 25-18, 25-20, 25-10 in the first round of the Class LL state tournament before an adoring crowd at the J. Walter Kennedy Athletic complex.
The win means Westhill (20-4 overall) will play host to No. 19 seed Newtown on Thursday at 6 p.m. in the Vikings’ gym. Newtown (13-9 overall) outfought No. 14 seed Staples, 3-2 on the road Monday night.
“Last Saturday’s game (a 3-2 loss to Ludlowe in the FCIAC Championship final) was a tough loss,” said Westhill’s Tamar Bellete, one of eight Vikings’ seniors. “It made us think about how much this state tournament to end our high school volleyball careers means to us.”
Legacy can be a powerful motivator as Westhill hopes to capture its first Class LL state volleyball title since 1980. Westhill lost in last year’s semifinals to eventual 2018 LL champ Amity Regional.
The Vikings didn’t allow intracity rival Stamford to block their path Monday night.
In Game 1 at 6-6, Westhill fashioned a 7-1 run for a 13-7 edge. At 15-10, the Vikings added an 8-0 surge for 23-10 which became a 25-18 triumph.
In Game 2, Westhill led 6-1 and 10-5. Stamford closed to 19-17 but could only trade points to a 25-20 Westhill win and a 2-0 edge.
For Stamford, which ends its season at 8-13 overall, SHS saw five seniors (Jenna Migliaccio, Liani Mercado, Lindsay Scordato, Widline Thomas and Morgan Yacavone) closed out their volleyball careers.
“In Game 2, we pushed them. To score 20 points on Westhill, we should get a medal,” said Stamford’s veteran coach Mike Smeriglio. “Westhill is one of the best teams in the state. Right now, I’m sad to see the season end for our seniors.”
Game 3 allowed the Westhill student Purple Pack to cheer even louder for their athletic heroes. The Vikings led 5-1, 11-2 and 14-6. An 8-2 surge for 22-8 settled the issue as Westhill closed out the match at 25-10.
“We had a talk on Sunday about all the accomplishments the girls had made so far this season. I wanted them to be proud of what they did (FCIAC West Division regular-season champs, No. 1 seed FCIAC Tournament, FCIAC Tournament runnerup),” Westhill coach Marianna Linnehan said. “Now we look forward to the states. Stamford was very scrappy. We knew this match wouldn’t be easy.”
Potentially, Westhill could face FCIAC teams it has lost to along the way to a Class LL final. No. 11 seed New Canaan, No. 7 seed Ludlowe and No. 1 seed Greenwich could all be in the Vikings’ path to a title.
“In the states, it’s more about playing your game, your style. You can adjust during matches to certain things if you’re playing an opponent for the first time,” Linnehan said. “The staff can’t teach anything else new at this point. I do know these girls don’t want their season to end.”
WESTHILL 3, STAMFORD 0
STAMFORD 18 20 10—0
WESTHILL 25 25 25—3
Records: Stamford 8-13 overall; Westhill 20-4 overall.
Highlights: W—Betsy Sachs 7 digs, 13 kills, 3 blocks. Sophia Thagouras 13 service points, 4 kills, 14 assists. Tamar Bellete 5 service points, 8 kills, 2 blocks. Sanjana Nayak 8 digs, 7 kills. Vana Servos 9 digs, 16 assists, 15 service points.