Darien blanks rival New Canaan 3-0 in early girls volleyball clash
The Darien Blue Wave volleyball team takes a straight-forward approach to every new season: Focus on the here and now and don’t worry about the past.
It’s an approach which has served them well over the years and can be especially helpful when the roster features a lot of younger players.
“100%,” senior co-captain Lindsey Bennett said when asked about the team’s clean slate this fall. “We have fresh players, a fresh team, and a fresh spirit for the new year.”
The Blue Wave certainly looked fresh on Thursday as they rolled to a 3-0 win over the rival New Canaan Rams, taking the three sets 25-18, 25-17 and 25-9.
Darien looked crisp on the court and seemed to gain steam as the match progressed. The communication was key, and the Wave’s strong serves kept the Rams back on their heels.
“We all just blended really well together and the chemistry on the court really helped us come back and win points,” Bennett said. “We had such a big lead because we could all really see what we were doing with each other on the court. And we communicated really well so that really helped.”
The resulted evened Darien’s mark at 1-1, while New Canaan dropped to 0-2.
The Rams, who lost to a tough Joel Barlow team in their opener on Tuesday, struggled to find a rhythm while also working with a relatively young roster.
“We made too many of our own mistakes,” head coach Kevin Marino said. “We have a young team and that tends to happen quite a bit with younger players, however these are things we go over in practice all the time. And we couldn’t pass and when you can’t pass, you can’t play.”
New Canaan stayed close during the first two sets — even rallying from a five-point deficit to tie the score at 15-15 in the second frame. Darien used a 4-1 run to regain the lead at 19-16 and then took six of the final seven points to go up 2-0.
The third set was all Wave, as Darien bounced out to leads of 5-0 and 9-2 before going on to win by 16.
Bennett led the Wave in kills with eight, and also added eight digs and three service points, while fellow senior co-captain Cristina Escajadillo had 16 assists, one ace and two points.
Juniors Lindsay Fay (5 aces, 13 points, 1 kill), Elaina Cummiskey (3 aces, 7 digs, 2 kills, 9 pts), and Deanna Attisani (5 aces, 11 points) also put up good numbers.
New Canaan was led by senior co-captains Emma Wheeler, the team’s setter, and Julia Salvatore, along with fellow senior Josie Matyszewski.
Darien was playing with a slightly altered lineup from its first match as the Wave’s Libero was injured on Wednesday and did not play. Head coach Laurie LaRusso and her staff shifted some players around and the moves worked like a charm.
“They actually did a very good job of making up for a player who got hurt last night,” assistant coach Jeana Roche said. “We had to come up with a lineup pretty quickly, but they did it. Their communication is great and we have a few good hitters out there that we can use, so it was good today.”
New Canaan contended with its own injury loss, as senior co-captain VeNae Rosdahl, a strong middle hitter, was sidelined late in the preseason and will miss a few weeks.
“We’re still trying to find our way and figure out what we are going to be,” Marino said. “Losing a senior captain is tough with VeNae. She’ll be back but we’re going to be without her for the next few weeks, so that’s really tough. Having to practice with one lineup for the entire beginning of the year and then move to something different here is difficult.”
Marino said Darien’s discipline was a key to the match.
“They had really good serving, both of their middles blocked and hit well. They just played very disciplined volleyball on that side. All the credit goes to them,” the coach said.
The match was the first of two meetings between Darien and New Canaan this fall, and for the Wave it was a good start to what they hope will be a great season.
The captains — Bennett, Escajadillo and Gabby Highton — are a big part of the positive outlook.
“Our captains are great and they’ve made sure everyone knows its all new; it’s a new season,” Roche said. “And they’ve brought their own ideas of bringing back a lot of things that we used to do in the last to bring the team together. Every year is new with Laurie and this season is new for these players.”
For New Canaan, the match was a step forward from the Barlow loss, even if the Rams aren’t quite where they want to be just yet.
“We’re working towards it and our goal is just to get better and better every day,” Marino said. “I thought we played better than we did against Barlow, but there were just too many mistakes on our side.”