WESTPORT — Across the top of the Staples girls volleyball team’s stat sheets are headings for typical categories such as kills, serves, blocks, and digs. Under serve receive, however, the subset gets quirky — there are spaces marked good, bad and ugly.
At the end of Tuesday afternoon’s FCIAC Central Region championship match against Ridgefield, the ugly boxes were check-free.
In a crisp, blemish-free performance on their home court, the top-seeded Wreckers swept second-seed Ridgefield 3-0 to end the COVID-modified season with a title.
“We had a bunch of good practices coming into the match and the girls were just really fired up,” said Staples coach Jon Shepro following his team’s 25-16, 25-23, 25-13 victory. “It was our playoff and we treated it like that.”
How dominant were the Wreckers? Ridgefield led only twice: at 3-2 and 4-3 early in the first game.
“Staples came out with energy and deserved it,” Ridgefield coach Lidania Cibere said. “We made way too many unforced errors.”
Two of those unforced errors came at a critical juncture. After controlling the first set, Staples (8-2) opened a 17-7 lead in the second game before Cibere called a timeout and Ridgefield responded with its best stretch of the match, closing within 20-19. But Staples took the next point and the Tigers sent two shots out of bounds to fall behind 23-19.
Ridgefield (7-3) rallied again to tie the score at 23-23, but Staples won the next two points to go ahead two games to none.
“I told them that we didn’t come here to be embarrassed,” said Cibere about her timeout message. “We played better for a while but couldn’t take the lead. And then we really didn’t play well at all in the final game.”
Ahead 13-9 in the third set, the Wreckers went on an 8-3 run to push their lead to 21-12. Two kills apiece by outside hitters Allison Schwartz and Layla Bloomingdale closed out the sweep for Staples.
“Today we were all so excited and ready and we wanted this so bad,” said Schwartz, who finished with 13 kills. “All our energies were up; we were all playing amazing today.”
“The outside hitters were on … Ali was great, Layla (12 kills) was great,” Shepro said. “We served great and Annabelle (Iannone), the setter, put the ball in the right place.”
Shepro said a defensive adjustment also benefited his team, which had split a pair of regular-season matches with Ridgefield.
“We really stopped their number 22 (Ridgefield middle hitter Catherine Maguire), and that was something we were trying to do,” Shepro said. “She really hurt us the last time we played — they ran the one set to her over and over again — and so we did some things to take them out of that system, which I think we did.”
Maguire had five kills and two blocks for the Tigers. Isabel Voellmicke added 12 assists, and Sarah Gagliardi contributed four kills and nine service points.
“Because of COVID, you never knew if the season would end early,” Shepro said. “We’re glad we got to have a season. To finish it off with a championship is an extra bonus.”
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