Darien sweeps rival New Canaan for FCIAC title

DARIEN — This wasn’t your usual championship game. The energy was there. The trophies were waiting behind the scorer’s table. The true story took place in the bench areas, after Darien defeated New Cannan to win the FCIAC boys’ volleyball title 3-0 on Friday.

For Darien the match was played for last year’s seniors, who didn’t get to defend its 2019 title.

New Canaan, in its first league final, was playing for Gavin Bramwit an outside hitter who saw his senior season end due to injury on April 30 in a match with Trumbull.

“Our seniors missed last year. We all wanted to see them get that banner,” said Darien’s Trevor Herget, who was named most valuable player. “New Canaan played well. All our guys made the serves and defensive plays that we needed to do to win.”

No. 1 seed Darien improved to 20-0. Coach Laurie LaRusso’s team has dropped only two sets this season. Both came in 3-1 wins against No. 2 seed New Canaan, now 16-4.

“It is hard to play the same team three times,” LaRusso said after her team prevailed 25-17, 25-11, 25-21. “New Canaan has a good coaching staff. Our boys respect their players a great deal.”

Darien’s Luke Bradbury and Herget each had four kills in the first set, which was dominated for the most part by sideouts. Outstanding digs from the respective liberos — Darien’s Isaac McMullin and New Canaan’s Connor Finnegan — accounted for the lack of long runs in serve.

Darien setter John Swetye distributed the ball between Herget, along with fellow captains Frank Pirone and Bradbury. New Canaan’s Connor Ho looked to Akel Boly, Matt Homan and Doug Gillespie. Pirone and George Radoslavov made it difficult to control the middle on either side.

Bradbury had a five-point run early in the second service rotation to stake his team to an 18-8 lead. Pirone added Darien’s fifth ace in the set before Herget accounted for his team’s last three points with two kills and a soft touch that fell inside the back line to complete the 25-11 win.

New Canaan took a 10-8 lead after one service rotation in the third set. Strong play from Dylan Kortman led to Boly putting down some winning spikes. Herget ended the match with a kill.

LUCKY AND GOOD

Tyler Herget had two net aces in Game 2that skimmed the top of the net and proved unreturnable. Isaac McMullin made a sideline save that saw his return carry over the stanchion at midcourt. That resulted in a 14-8 lead and a New Canaan timeout.

HEART AND FLOWERS

“These boys have the most heart of any team I’ve coached,” New Canaan coach Amy Warren said while holding a bouquet of flowers given to her by the team. “They don’t stop fighting. I appreciate that. It is what I respect most about them. We had a lot of battles when Gavin went out. We lost not only his 11 kills a game, but all the things he brought to the court. Our guys stepped up. We dedicated our season to Gavin.”

HISTORY LESSON

Since Laurie LaRusso took over program in 2006, Darien has won five FCIAC and three state championships. ... Amy Warren is in her 11th season...New Canaan’s other loss this season was 3-2 to Ridgefield.

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