Tested in each game during its match against New Canaan this evening, the Greenwich High School girls volleyball team showed the savvy and skill of a squad that’s riding a long winning streak.
The Cardinals are well adept at closing matches out and when they’re challenged, the respond like most successful teams do – they raise their performance level.
Greenwich kept its perfect season going, sweeping New Canaan, 3-0, to raise its record to 12-0. Dating back to last season, when they finished 12-0, the Cardinals have won 24 straight matches. They are one of only four undefeated teams in Class LL and one of two unbeaten squads in the FCIAC, with Darien also yet to be beaten.
Senior tri-captain Liana Sarkissian registered 16 kills, while Adele Sotgiu, also a senior tri-captain, posted 10 kills to pace the Cardinals, who won the match by set scores of 25-18, 25-21, 25-16. Junior Maggie Saleeby tallied five service points for Greenwich, which visits FCIAC rival Darien on Wednesday for a 4 p.m. matchup.
“We were down a lot through all sets,” said Sotgiu, who added a service ace. “I think it was definitely our passing that we were struggling with and our free ball decisions also. But once we got that together and we finally got in rhythm, toward the end of the last set, I think that’s when we played our best.”
In the first game, Greenwich seized a 7-3 lead, behind three kills from Sarkissian, an ace by junior Lucia Spanjol and an ace from Sotgiu. Consecutive kills by Rams sophomore Lily Stevens later in the opening game cut Greenwich’s advantage to 11-9, but Greenwich’s Sophie Jones and Kassidy Boney combined for a key block at the net, making it 12-9. The Cardinals added onto their lead thereafter to close out the first set.
The second set saw New Canaan jump out to a 7-3 edge behind strong serving from sophomore Lisette Jimenez and solid hitting from senior Christina Sinatra, but Greenwich quickly closed the gap. Sarkissian and Saleeby posted a pair of kills and Jones, a senior tri-captain, registered a kill, putting Greenwich on top, 15-14. The Rams rallied to even the score at 18-18, but Greenwich won four straight points on their way to notching a 25-21 win.
“With this team, I never get worried, I trust the girls on and off the court,” Sarkissian said. “When we are down by six, seven points, we can always count on each other to get a good ball or be smart. I think that’s what’s really helped us.”
Said Saleeby: “I’m really happy that our team was able to keep a calm head throughout the game. That’s one of our strengths throughout the season is whenever we’re down, we don’t get nervous or jittery. We just stay calm and do our thing.”
In the third game, the momentum swung to Greenwich’s at the midway point, with Sotgiu, Sarkissian and Saleeby helping lead the way.
“They were good, we certainly didn’t dominate,” Greenwich coach Steve Lapham said. “Our awareness and reacting to balls was a little slow. But their hitters were smart. New Canaan is always well coached and a quality program. It’s a good win for our team, but we certainly have things to work on.”
Said Jones: “It was good, it’s great to have good competition, it pushes us to work harder a lot of our games. They really pushed us and made us work for the win. I think our passing really stepped up. In the past we were struggling, but we had good sets and great hits.”
New Canaan coach Kevin Marino credited Stevens, Sinatra and Diane Wallace for giving his team a lift.
“I kind of felt like we let it go in set three after having a lead,” Marino said. “Our girls executed the game plan pretty well, the plan was to get them on their heels a little bit and put the ball where we thought we could score. But we have to pass better, so we can have a chance to set the ball.”
While Greenwich is 12-0 on the season, Darien sported a 9-0 record, as of today. The Cards, are of course, eagerly anticipating their match against the Blue Wave.
“It is going to be our toughest game so far,” Sotgiu said. “We’re both undefeated, so it’s going to be a really great game, it’s going to be really tough, but we’ll push through.”
“It’s ways fun to playing against people you know, I know some of the players on their team,” Sarkissian said of Darien. “They’re a tough team, but I feel if we play our game we can beat them and we can continue our winning streak.”