Fall sports

Greenwich High School girls volleyball team defeated by unbeaten Darien

Photo by David Fierro: Katherine Ford, Hayley Dionis, Maggie Saleeby and Lucia Spanjol get ready in the back row to return a serve for Greenwich in its match against Darien.

Greenwich entered Tuesday’s match against FCIAC volleyball rival Darien, with eight consecutive victories over their rival dating back to the 2018 season, but the Blue Wave stopped the streak in impressive fashion.

While Darien stopped its losing streak against Greenwich, it continued another, keeping its pattern of sweeping its opponents so far this season, intact.

The surging Blue Wave upped their record to 11-0, posting a 3-0 victory over the Cardinals in an FCIAC matchup. Following the win, coach Laurie LaRusso’s athletes knew they accomplished something they’ve wanted to for quite a while.

“We’ve had a history with Greenwich and we really came to play,” Darien junior Ellie Moore said. “We wanted redemption from previous years, so today, we really had that on our mind. We were focused and we played great today.”

Greenwich faced FCIAC rival Darien in an FCIAC match on Oct. 11, 2022, at Greenwich High School.

Carrying the momentum throughout, Darien won the match by set scores of 25-14, 25-14, 25-11. The triumph gave Darien its first win against Greenwich since it eliminated the Cardinals in the 2018 FCIAC Tournament quarterfinals. Since then, the Cardinals were 8-0 against the Blue Wave, including a 3-1 victory in the 2021 FCIAC Tournament final and a 3-1 triumph in last season’s Class LL Tournament semifinals.

“Greenwich is a team that has been someone that we’ve been wanting to beat for a while,” Darien senior outside hitter Jillian Roche said. “They came out ready to play. It was a really good win for our team.”

Roche powered Darien’s offense, recording a match-high 17 kills. Senior middle hitter Leilani Gillespie was also a standout for the Blue Wave, registering 16 kills and four aces.

The Blue Wave sport a record of 11-0 and are currently ranked No. 1 in the state in Class LL. Greenwich, which went 26-1 during its championship 2021 season, began its 2022 campaign 10-3, but have lost three last three matches. They were edged by New Canaan, 3-2, in their previous outing and were defeated by Trumbull.

Greenwich reacts after winning a point against Darien, which won the match, 3-0.

“We’ve had a pretty tough run,” Greenwich coach Marianna Linnehan said. “We had Trumbull, New Canaan and today, Darien. We have to play tough every single time. We can’t pick and choose when we want to bring it.”

Senior outside hitter Maggie Saleeby posted nine kills and seven digs, while junior libero Hayley Dionis tallied 10 digs for Greenwich.

In the first game, Darien jumped out to a 6-2 lead behind strong serving from Leone. Consecutive aces from junior setter Aubrey Moore later in the game put the Blue Wave on top, 13-8.

Later in the game, Leone served a pair of aces, putting Greenwich in a 21-11 hole.

The second set saw the Blue Wave again control the momentum and dictate the points. Kills by Roche and Gillespie gave the visitors comfortable leads of 14-7 and 21-11. The third and final game was more of the same, as Darien played from in front, winning the first five points.

Darien is 11-0 on the season after topping host Greenwich, 3-0.

The 11-0 Blue Wave have won all of their matches, 3-0.

“Our team basically came back with a lot of returners and a lot of girls who played in the offseason,” Gillespie said. “Our coach implemented the idea of focusing on the basics – serving and passing and that’s what we did.”

Aubrey Moore, a junior setter, had 35 assists, while Leone had four aces in the winning effort. Senior Lucia Spanjol, a setter, had 16 assists for Greenwich, which is playing Ridgefield today.

“They just didn’t make very many mistakes,” Linnehan said of Darien. “They have tough hitters, we knew that going into the game. They hit the ball well, they move the ball around well, they serve well.”

Greenwich huddles up during its match against Darien on Oct. 11, 2022.

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