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NEW CANAAN — One of the unusual quirks of the 2020 volleyball season, alongside masks and safety protocols of course, is the fact that rivals such as Darien and New Canaan wound up facing each other twice, in back-to-back games, at the start of the schedule.

For the Blue Wave, the situation worked out just fine.

Darien picked up a second straight 3-1 victory over the Rams on Tuesday in New Canaan, and while the final score was identical to the first meeting, it certainly wasn’t easy.

The Rams had a chance to win each of the first three sets, but came away with just one before the Blue Wave rolled in the fourth frame for a 25-22, 25-20, 18-25, 25-16 decision.

For Darien (2-0), pulling out wins in the first two sets was a matter of staying under control.

“We settled down and we weren’t as frantic,” Darien junior middle Aerin Bowman said. “We were able to come together and play as a team. We’ve been very good at overcoming obstacles, playing as a team and working together.”

In the first set, the Rams (0-2) had a 22-21 lead before Darien took the final four points for the win. In the second, New Canaan led 19-16, but the Wave won nine of the next 10 points to close out the frame.

“It comes down to communication,” New Canaan senior setter Elle Sneddon said. “We had a lot of communication errors. We did better keeping our energy up (than the first match). We’re trying to be stable with our passing and serving, and trying not to make errors.”

The Blue Wave had contributions from many places.

Bowman, one of the state’s top middle hitters, racked up 17 kills, six blocks, and four aces.

Libero Julianna Han led the defense with 17 digs, and setter Rachel Herget had 25 assists, 12 digs, and three aces. Outside hitter Jillian Roche added five kills and three aces.

New Canaan was led by Sneddon, last year’s CHSCA Player of the Year in volleyball, along with libero Annie Gravereaux, and hitter Alex Gillespie.

After the Wave’s comeback in the second set put the Rams in a 2-0 hole, New Canaan responded with a great effort in the third.

The Rams jumped out to a 16-8 lead, and held off a Darien charge to win by seven, cutting the deficit in half.

“We kept our energy up and we played really smart,” Sneddon said. “We started off with the lead and we were able to keep it. Just keeping the ball on the court and swinging at good sets, and then tipping or doing something smart when you don’t get a good set.”

The Blue Wave delivered their own answer in the fourth set, scoring the first five points and then rolling to a 25-16 decision to close out the match.

Topping their rivals twice in six days was a great feeling for the Wave.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Bowman said. “We beat them in four the first time, we had the weekend to prepare for them again, and we knew what to expect. It was great to beat them back-to-back.”

With teams separated into regional pods this fall, top opponents for some teams will be far and few between. The FCIAC West is an exception with five perennial playoff contenders in Darien, New Canaan, Greenwich, Westhill and Stamford.

“The region is definitely really good,” Bowman said. “New Canaan is great competition, and we’ve still got Greenwich and both Stamford teams, so I think it will be a good region with good teams.”

“We have a really good region, but I’m just glad that we get 10 games,” Sneddon said. “Our region is really good and there’s a lot of people I know on other teams, so I’m really excited to play them.”

david.stewart@hearstmediact.com; @dstewartsports