After capturing the FCIAC championship last week with a victory against Darien, the Greenwich High School girls volleyball team began its journey toward what it hopes, is another title on Thursday, as it played its first match in the CIAC Class LL Tournament.
The second-seeded Cardinals, who received a first-round bye, hosted No. 15 Bristol Central in the Round of 16 and they indeed, looked like a team on a mission.
“Hitting on all cylinders,” as coach Steve Lapham said, Greenwich dictated the points the majority of the match on its way to registering a convincing 3-0 win over visiting Bristol Central.
Senior tri-captain Liana Sarkissian recorded 20 kills and six blocks, while Adele Sotgiu, also a senior tri-captain, tallied 10 kills and eight digs for the Cardinals, who won the match by set scores of 25-12, 25-14, 25-5.
“We try to get better every day and today we were hitting on all cylinders,” Lapham said. “Our net play was really strong. Liana was dominating there and Adele – her serving was really strong. It was an all-around performance by all the girls. They were consistent and they just kept the pressure on.”
The 23-1 Cardinals advanced to the Class LL quarterfinals, where they will play 10th-seeded Wilton on Saturday at a time yet to be determined. Wilton, which swept seventh-seeded Maloney, 3-0, on Thursday, handed Greenwich its lone loss of the season.
“I’m really excited to show them what we have to bring,” Sotgiu said of facing Wilton in the quarterfinals. “Today, we played really well, we were working on a bunch of things we practiced and I think we executed them really well.”
Winning six straight points gave Greenwich an 8-3 lead on Bristol Central in the first game. Solid serving from junior middle hitter Maggie Saleeby sparked the run. Saleeby totaled five kills, four aces and kept the Cards’ offense moving with 11 digs for the match.
“We’re getting a greater and greater connection throughout the season, especially during these big championships,” Saleeby said. “We’re always putting our best effort and we’re never letting balls drop.”
After senior Sarah Romano posted a pair of service points for Bristol Central, Sarkissian ignited another Cardinals spurt with strong serving. Her ace and a combined block from sophomore Kassidy Bonney and junior Lucia Spanjol put the Cards ahead, 11-5, in the first game. A pair of kills later in the game upped Greenwich’s advantage to 18-10.
Senior tri-captain Sophie Jones’ ace and pair of service points made it 22-10, before Sotgiu sealed the first game with a kill.
The Cardinals were focused from the match’s outset.
“Going into it, we had a chat before and we mentioned that we can’t get complacent with how we play,” said Sarkissian, who will play volleyball Dayton. “We have to play every point like it’s like our last. There’s no room for error and I think we did a really good job of keeping that in mind when we played and giving it our all.”
In the second set, Greenwich jumped out to leads of 10-3 and 15-6 on Bristol Central. Kills by Sarkissian, Saleeby and Sotgiu enabled the home team to seize control.
“Lucia (Spanjol) did a nice job of moving the ball around and of keeping the ball right in front of our hitters,” Lapham said. “When you give us a free ball, watch out.”
Sophomore Alexandra Rivera brought Bristol to within 16-10 in the second set with effective serving, including an ace, but Sotgiu and Sarkissian’s power was too much for the visitors to contend with.
The final set saw the Cards cruise, as they bolted to a 19-3 lead.
“We came in with really good energy, we had really good team chemistry and we were communicating really well,” Sotgiu said. “Each person knew their role on the court and that’s what helped us today.”