Playing with the poise, passion and persistence it’s shown all season, the Greenwich High School girls volleyball team earned its biggest win of the season to date on Saturday – a victory the members of the team won’t forget.
Top-seeded Greenwich continued its season of excellence, defeating second-seeded Darien, 3-1, to win the FCIAC Tournament championship in a much-anticipated match held at Fairfield Ludlowe High School.
The triumph gave the Cardinals their third FCIAC title overall and first since the 2017 season under the tutelage of coach Steve Lapham. Greenwich sports an outstanding 22-1 record and is 34-1 dating back to the abbreviated 2020 season, which saw it beat Darien for the FCIAC West Region championship.
In Saturday’s FCIAC final, Greenwich won the first two sets, 25-20, 25-21, then Darien took the third set, 25-15. The Cardinals sealed the match and claimed the championship trophy by winning the fourth set, 25-22.
“For years, Darien would beat us, but the last several years we’ve been competitive with them,” Lapham said. “We’ve battled right with them and going into the finals we knew we would have to be at our best to beat their girls. We played very well against them and during the entire tournament, which was great to see.”
Senior middle blocker/hitter Liana Sarkissian earned Tournament MVP honors for the Cardinals. In the title matchup against the Blue Wave, the 6-foot-4 Sarkissian recorded 16 kills, seven digs and five blocks. Her kill concluded the fourth game and match and began the Cardinals’ championship celebration.
Adele Sotgiu, a senior outside hitter, was a tremendous force as well for Greenwich, registering 15 kills and 12 digs in the winning effort.
“Liana and Adele are the backbone of the team,” Lapham said. “Besides the 16 kills, Liana played great defense too. Adele’s serve receive was awesome. She is rock-solid in everything she does out there. She really helps set the tone for our team.”
Junior setter Lucia Spanjol provided an offensive spark to the Cards. Spanjol notched 44 assists, while adding five digs and two kills against the Blue Wave.
“Lucia did a great job of distributing balls that our hitters could get good swings at,” Lapham said. “Everyone on our team is an important piece of the puzzle.”
Sophomore libero Hayley Dionis had four digs, while junior outside hitter Maggie Saleeby had a standout match, tallying eight kills, 10 digs and 12 service points. She also had two aces in the win.
“Hayley passed the serve really well and Maggie’s serving was excellent,” Lapham said.
Senior Sophie Jones had two kills, two digs and three aces, while sophomore Grace Darnow posted two aces for the FCIAC champion Cardinals.
Junior Jillian Roche had 11 kills, while sophomore Aubrey Moore had 32 assists for Darien, which lost to Greenwich, 3-1, during the regular season.
With the goal of winning the FCIAC championship now crossed off its list, Greenwich will seek to claim the CIAC Class LL Tournament title. The Cardinals are seeded No. 2 in the Class LL Tournament and will receive a first-round bye.
They will host either 15th-seeded Farmington or 18th-seeded Bristol Central in Thursday’s Round of 16 match at 6 p.m. The quarterfinals are slated for Saturday at 6 p.m.
“Every season is a battle from the beginning to the end and I’m so impressed with how this team has stayed focused in every game we’ve played,” Lapham said. “It’s not easy being the No. 1-ranked team in the state – teams are out to beat you and there’s some pressure involved. Our team has been humble all season and has shown great sportsmanship. I’m so proud of them for being so successful at the FCIAC Tournament. They’ve stepped up throughout the season and produced.”