Greenwich Falls in Heartbreaking Fashion to Darien in Semis
The Greenwich High girls volleyball team gave the top-seeded Darien High perhaps their toughest challenge this season in Thursday’s FCIAC semifinal, but the Cardinals fell just short of upsetting the undefeated Blue Wave in an emotional 3-1 loss.
In a match that lasted nearly two hours and included both injuries and controversy, Greenwich head coach Steve Lapham described the potent playoff atmosphere as mildly as he could.
“It hurts,” Lapham said after the loss. “It was a tough game. We passed, served and received very well. Our offense was cooking. Abby was hitting hard. We’re tough to stop when we’re doing those things.”
In the opening game of the match, Greenwich got off to a hot start aided by Darien miscues and multiple kills by Abbie Wolf, which resulted in handing the Blue Wave just their second loss in any game this season by a score of 25-10.
Wolf led the Cardinals with 16 kills and three blocks, while Micaela Lew and Nadia Sotgiu combined for 37 of the team’s 51 digs. Greenwich served 11 aces, led by Samantha Schecter (4) and Caroline Beneville (3).
Darien took a commanding 18-10 lead in the second game, but the Cardinals came all the way back to bring it within one point. Greenwich’s comeback would end in dramatic fashion, losing the game by a score of 25-23.
The Blue Wave reassured themselves of their perfect 18-0 record thus far with a 25-14 win in the third game, which included a seven-point streak from the likes of junior Samantha Hunt and senior captains Isabelle Taylor and Anna Barsanti.
“We knew they were going to be tough going in and it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park,” Darien assistant coach Burt Takesue said. “Tough teams are fun games. We want the competition and we want to be challenged.”
The fourth and final game of the match proved to be a back and forth test for both teams, as neither team held a lead by more than three points.
With Greenwich trailing 17-16 in the fourth game, Darien’s senior captain and All-American outside hitter Isabelle Taylor suffered a knee injury that would sideline her for the rest of the match.
After Darien took a 21-20 lead, Greenwich’s Lapham signaled for a timeout to stop any further momentum. The timeout was acknowledged by at least one of the three referees and players from both teams. In mass confusion, the game was still deemed live and Darien rushed on the court to serve the ball to an empty Greenwich court.
Play was stopped momentarily and Greenwich was granted the timeout after the point was awarded to Darien.
The Cardinals fought to the very end but once again found themselves on the heartbreak side of a 25-23 score, ending the match in Darien’s favor.
“I definitely think we had the potential to win,” Greenwich’s Micaela Lew said. “They played a great game and I think knowing that we could have won will hurt the most.”
Fighting back emotions from a hard fought game, Lew spoke on the Cardinals next task at hand: State playoffs.
“We definitely have to be focused. There were a few runs that they got on their serves that we couldn’t side out and I think that’s the most important part we have to focus on.”
Darien will face Fairfield Ludlowe in the FCIAC finals rematch from last year on Saturday at 4:00, but the status for Taylor is in question after suffering a knee injury.
“I’m really sad for Darien because one of their best players got hurt tonight and I hope she’s okay,” Lapham said.
In a drama-filled match with crucial momentum swings, Lepham won’t let one play decide his team’s fate, but knows how close the game was in reach for the Cardinals.
“I thought it was a debatable call, but one play doesn’t finish a match.”