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GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

September 22, 2018

STAMFORD—In FCIAC Girls Volleyball, five-game thrillers are no surprise.

Battling to the bitter end speaks to the league’s high standing in the state as well as to the balance of many of the teams.

Ludlowe High and Stamford High had such a duel Friday at SHS’ Paul Kuczo Gym.

And the statement after the final point was crystal clear. Beware of Ludlowe. Be very aware.

The Falcons posted a 22-25, 25-15, 25-14, 22-25, 15-8 road victory to remain unbeaten this season. Ludlowe (5-0, 4-0 FCIAC) are atop the FCIAC East Division.

“We were a young team last year. We are still a young team,” said Ludlowe’s veteran coach Meghan Skelton. “But the core of this 2018 squad are returnees.”

The Falcons have all seniors (five) and juniors (13) on this 2018 roster. Having beaten perennial power Greenwich (3-1 Thursday), Ludlowe did not have a letdown against Stamford.

MANY PIECES TO LUDLOWE’S PUZZLE

Ludlowe was 7-12 overall and 6-10 in the FCIAC in 2017. The Falcons took their lumps while learning important lessons on what it takes to survive in the FCIAC.

Junior hitters Jo Bianco, Amy Lumaj, Maddie Corbett and Jackie Soderlund used their height advantage and kept the Stamford defense guessing who was going for the next kill.

Juniors Margaret Nolan (19 service points), designated server Emma Davies and senior Molly Cronin (12 service points) anchored Ludlowe’s serving prowess. Nolan (20 digs) and senior Jess Takami (15 digs) keyed the backline defense.

“Everyone is talented. I’m thrilled to have a group with so much depth,” Skelton said. “It’s been exciting. And I’m not going to let them rest on their laurels.”

The marathon FCIAC season continues with Ludlowe meeting Greenwich again Monday followed by Ridgefield and Trumbull.

“We will keep working. We have big goals for the season. Our potential is very high,” Skelton said. “We can’t lose sight of performing the basics. We were consistent and calm in Game 5.”

TIME WILL TELL FOR STAMFORD

This is the second season since the Stamford High volleyball program captured the 2016 FCIAC and Class LL championships. Outstanding hitter Andrea O’Connor graduated and moved on to college volleyball at High Point University.

The 2018 Black Knights are still building their own identity and history. Stamford (3-3, 0-3 FCIAC) have lost to Trumbull (in 4), at Ridgefield (in 5) and now Ludlowe (in 5).

With just two senior starters (Kim Magliari, setter Elodhie Joassin), Stamford needs time to jell.

The Black Knights, who forced a Game 5 with a 25-22 win in Game 4 Friday, can’t manufacture easy points due to the youth and a lack of basketball player type height on the front row.

Their serving can improve and their offensive hitting can get more aggressive. Defensive blocking is sporadic due to height.

Stamford’s collective perseverance is impressive.

“We are very resilient. The girls didn’t quit in Game 4,” said Stamford’s veteran coach Mike Smeriglio. “We understand the challenge that the FCIAC is. Ludlowe is a very good team with a lot of strong hitters. They made us play poorly. They manhandled us at times.”

rdepreta@stamfordadvocate.com

LUDLOWE 3, STAMFORD 2

LUDLOWE 22 25 25 22 15—3

STAMFORD 25 15 14 25 8—2

Records: Ludlowe 5-0, 4-0 FCIAC; Stamford 3-3, 0-3 FCIAC. Highlights: L—Maddie Corbett 6 kills, 3 blocks. Margaret Nolan 19 service points, 3 aces, 15 kills, 20 digs. Jess Takami 15 digs. S—Kim Magliari 8 kills, 4 aces. Crista Gerard 10 kills. Morgan Yacavone 25 digs.

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