Volleyball has a new identity, same reputation

Members of girls volleyball teams in the FCIAC see Darien on their schedule and know they will have their work cut out just to make it a battle, let alone a close loss.

After all, losses have been few and far between during the last decade for a Blue Wave team which has won a state championship each year since 2001, making the school's volleyball team one of the most dominant squads in its conference in Connecticut.

This year's Blue Wave players, however, aren't taking anything for granted as they make a push for their 10th straight state title. The Wave has a bit of a new look this year after graduation claimed five members of last year's team: Olivia Taylor, Caroline Carmichael, Gabby Garner, Sarah Suckow and Catie Wright.

The lone captain on coach Laurie LaRusso's squad is senior Mackenzie Begley, who enters the campaign with plenty of enthusiasm about the team and was often times as big a factor in games won last year as Colby Billhardt -- now playing at UConn -- Sarah Gorski and Corrine Sommi were..

"I'm really excited. It's a young group of girls but everybody works really hard," Begley said.

Other key players in the lineup include juniors Bella Carrara, a strong defensive player and passer; Emma Getsinger, whom Begley says contributes where needed and adds a presence all over the court; and Charlotte Stevenson and Katie Stueber. Sophomores Riley Sousa and Kelly Kosnik are also players expected to contribute.

Despite the high expectations everyone seems to have, and the fact this team always, always, always has that target on its proverbial back, the Wave players say they don't feel pressure to keep the championship ways going. But they aren't nonchalant about it. The Wave players say they are giving it their all in practices and matches.

"We work hard so we're hoping that pays off and keeps the pressure off of us," Begley said. "The more we put in the more we know we're going to get out of it."

Darien's toughest competition will likely come from Greenwich, Fairfield Ludlowe and Ridgefield, the players anticipate. Staples is prone to be feisty as well, but Darien has easily handled the challenge from the Wreckers as of late.

If the talent ceiling of this group is to be determined, then the strength of this squad is camaraderie.

"I think we enjoy being around each other and having fun together," Carrara said. "We have a lot of chemistry."

As the preseason continued last week, the Wave players had a good test against fellow state champions from the different classes in a round robin tournament in Coventry.

"It was good to have a lot of the young players on the team see the good teams out there," Getsinger said.

"I'm really excited; I'm very excited. I love all of the girls on the team. It definitely makes the hard work not seem like work," Carrara said.

The up-and-coming varsity players are fitting in well with the veterans, making for a smooth transition as this year's team takes form.

"Everyone has a lot of heart and puts in a lot of effort," Getsinger said. "Everybody works well together so far."